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Are Cousins and the Redskins waiting for Osweiler to sign before getting serious?

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Are Cousins and the Redskins waiting for Osweiler to sign before getting serious?

One of the reasons that the Redskins and Kirk Cousins’ camp are may be having difficulty in their contract talks is that nobody really knows what a long-term contract for Cousins should look like.

Executing contracts for free agent football players is in some ways like buying a house. To price the house, the real estate agent looks at comparables, recent sales of similar houses in similar neighborhoods. The agent will list the house somewhere around what those homes sold for.

The problem with figuring out Cousins’ worth is that there are no real comparable quarterback contracts to work with. He had sporadic appearances in his first three seasons in the league. Then he was named the starter, started off the year slowly but then caught fire (against some suspect defenses) and set some team passing records in the process of leading the team to the NFC East title.

And now his rookie contract has expired and he is set to become a free agent. Who else in this decade has gone from the bench to a record-setting, division winning, 16-game starter in the last year of his rookie contract? Nobody, really.

It doesn’t mean that Cousins’ team and the Redskins are going into the negotiations blind. Looking at average contract values per year, it’s clear that Cousins does not belong in the over $20 million neighborhood. The players in there are ones who have at least one Super Bowl ring (Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger) or have been playing at a high level for a long time (Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan).

But a deal below $15 million per year would put him in with the likes of Sam Bradford’s just expired deal and Nick Foles. That’s the low-rent district. Foles was benched and Bradford was inconsistent and injured. Their bodies of work prior to 2015 had some good moments but nothing consistently special.

So something between $15 million and $20 million per year seems right. But that’s a lot of room for negotiation when you multiply it by the four or five years a Cousins extension would probably cover.

The best thing to do here might be for the Redskins to put the tag on Cousins and to let the quarterback market play out in the spring. See what Sam Bradford gets and what kind of deal Colin Kaepernick receives if the 49ers decide to move on from him. Even the deal landed by Ryan Fitzpatrick could be useful as a guide.

A very useful guide will be Brock Osweiler’s new deal. He started seven games for the Broncos and they won five of them. His numbers were not quite as good as Cousins’ were (86 passer rating compared to 101 for Cousins) but the Broncos did beat the Patriots and Bengals with Osweiler at the helm. The Redskins and Cousins went 0-3 against teams with wining records. The deal will be a good comp.

As long as Cousins signs the tender, something that he is likely but not certain to do, it’s business as usual. Then the two sides could get together in June and, armed with more information on the quarterback market than they had before, get to work on a new deal. It’s likely that they will know about Osweiler’s deal early on since the Broncos are unlikely to tag him so he will have a contract with Denver—or with somebody—sometime in March.

Cousins and the Redskins would have until July 15 to get it done. There is plenty of downside to Cousins playing out 2016 on the tag for both the player and the Redskins that there would be plenty of motivation to get a deal done.

Determined parties plus a hard deadline is a good formula for making a deal. If those elements are present this summer a long-term deal for Cousins should result.

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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