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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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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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