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The 49ers are looking at the top QBs in the draft; how might this affect the Redskins and Kirk Cousins?

The 49ers are looking at the top QBs in the draft; how might this affect the Redskins and Kirk Cousins?

When the 49ers signed quarterback Brian Hoyer early in free agency this year many assuming that Kyle Shanahan was bringing the veteran in to be a placeholder until he could sign Kirk Cousins in 2018. But it turns out that Hoyer may be keeping the seat warm for a different quarterback.

For a team that supposedly has its quarterback plan set, the 49ers sure have been doing a lot of quarterback shopping. They had a private workout with Cal QB Davis Webb on Tuesday. Webb is just one in a long line of quarterbacks on whom the 49ers have done research lately.

They have had private workouts or visits with Mitchell Trubisky of North Carolina, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Texas Tech product Patrick Mahomes, and DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 8.0

Those five quarterbacks are generally considered to be at the top of the class, the QBs who will go in the first or second round. The 49ers have the second pick each of the first two rounds. If the Browns take Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the top pick as expected, Shanahan and GM John Lynch would have their choice of any quarterback on the board. Even if they bypass a quarterback at No. 2 they could well have Webb and/or Kinzer still on the board early in the second round.

Certainly, the 49ers could just be doing some due diligence here. But the reason you conduct due diligence is that you never know what you might find. What if Shanahan decides that one of those quarterbacks could be as good as Kirk Cousins in a couple of years, or at least close enough to make going with that QB in the draft worth the $15-$23 million per year in cap space they would save by going with the draft pick instead of bringing Cousins in at around $25 million per year.

If that happens, where would that leave Cousins in 2018? His first choice of a destination would be gone. If Jared Goff of Sean McVay’s Rams shows any signs of promise the Rams will be reluctant to move on from the first overall draft pick after just two seasons and Los Angeles would be out of the Cousins sweepstakes.

That might leave Washington as Cousins’ top option. Jay Gruden’s offense is perfectly suited to what Cousins does well and the organization has a history of keeping the team stocked with offensive weapons.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins seven-round mock draft

And regardless of who the 49ers draft or how Goff performs, how much will Cousins be worth next year on the open market, without the artificial value of the franchise tag? A transition tag by the Redskins would carry a value of $28 million but while that’s relevant right now in figuring out what’s a fair contract for Cousins it won’t mean anything if he starts shopping for an offer sheet. Teams will bid for his services starting from zero, not from a tag number.

So maybe the Redskins are playing this right. Maybe the bidding for Cousins won’t go sky high, especially if the Rams and 49ers are not in the mix. Maybe his true market value will prove to be closer to $20 million per year than $25 million per.

Of course, all it takes is one team to throw in a huge offer that the Redskins won’t want to match and then they face losing Cousins without compensation. It’s certainly possible that the Redskins will end up being big losers in all of this. But it’s also possible that playing this out until the last possible moment in March of 2018 could just work out for the Redskins.

For the first hint as to how it might play out, let’s see what the 49ers draft strategy is and take it from there.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

For the second straight season the Redskins placed the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins. While the two sides are speaking amicably about a long-term deal, the July 15 deadline for those negotiations continues to inch closer without much expectation that contract will get signed. 

A second year on the tag is unprecedented for a quarterback. In 2016, Cousins made nearly $20 million playing on the tag. In 2017, that figure goes up to $24.

If the Redskins don't get a deal done with Cousins, many think the organization would not again go with the franchise tag because the price tag jumps to an exorbitant $34 million. 

Think again. 

Asked on Monday if another franchise tag would be an option for Cousins in 2018, Redskins team president Bruce Allen was clear.

"Yes," he said. "In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract."

Those options include the exclusive franchise tag, the non-exclusive franchise tag and the transition tag. Both franchise tags carry the same cost, but the non-exclusive allows Cousins' representatives to shop his services around the NFL. If a deal gets struck, and the Redskins don't match the contract, Washington is due two first-round draft picks as compensation for losing their franchise player. 

The transition tag carries a $28 million price tag, and the Redskins can match another contract but risk only receiving a possible 2019 third-round compensatory pick if Cousins walks.

Considering those options, another year on the non-exclusive tag might make sense. The NFL salary cap will be at least $168 million, which means Cousins at $34 million would account for about 20 percent of the Redskins' salary cap.

That's a crazy allotment for one player. Crazy. The Redskins do have about $54 million in cap space for 2018, so technically, another franchise tag could work. 

But the entire manner of the contract dealings with Cousins and the Redskins has been quite unconventional. The Redskins have already made history by franchising Cousins a second-straight year. 

"I think even Kirk said it, there’s a lot of players round the league who are on a one-year deal. It’s the nature of it, we’d like to get him a long-term deal and I think he should want to get one," Allen said. "Kirk’s played well on a one-year contract the last two seasons."

At this point, it doesn't require a degree in advanced mathematics to understand that the Redskins and Cousins have a different picture of the quarterback's long-term value. That could change by July 15th, it could, but it doesn't seem likely. The Cousins camp has little incentive to bend, as $24 million fully guaranteed for 2017 represents a great payday.

And maybe the Redskins don't plan on bending because the option of a third-straight franchise tag doesn't worry them. Or at least the option of letting Cousins shop his services on a non-exclusive tag, and then making a decision to match a deal or receive compensation seems a worthwhile endevaor. 

For Cousins, he's not counting out any possibility. 

"People, I’ve heard say, ‘There’s no chance they franchise tag him or even transition tag him the following season,’ and I chuckle because if the team has franchise tagged me for two years in a row," Cousins said to an ESPN podcast in March. 

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Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

The Redskins’ offseason starts to move into high gear today as organized team activities, better known as OTAs, get underway at Redskins Park.

Players have been participating in workouts at Redskins Park since April 17. The first phase of those session consisted of strength and conditioning. In the second phase, they were permitted to run plays but not with the offense lined up against the defense. Finally, in OTAs, they will go offense vs. defense.

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

The practices, however, will not resemble an August scrimmage in Richmond. The players wear helmets but no pads and contact is not permitted. While players do block other players and there are collisions between players going after passes, the action is more like pushing and shoving that it is hitting.  

The part about no contact should be taken seriously. Seattle ran afoul of the no-contact rule last year and it cost them. The Seahawks were fined $400,000, lost their fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and they will not be permitted to hold their first week of OTAs this year. The Redskins will be very careful to keep within the rules.

MORE REDSKINS: Allen says new stadium ahead of schedule 

OTAs will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in each of the next three weeks. The sessions will be open to the media on Wednesday of each week. While player attendance is strongly encouraged the practices are voluntary.

The week after OTAs end the team will hold its minicamp on June 13-14. Minicamp is essentially a continuation of OTAs but player attendance is mandatory.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.