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Contract talks between Kirk Cousins' agent and Redskins seek to avoid animosity

Contract talks between Kirk Cousins' agent and Redskins seek to avoid animosity

A few days after placing the exclusive franchise tag on their quarterback, Kirk Cousins' agent said initial contract talks with the Redskins are "moving in a positive direction." Speaking on NFL Network's Good Morning Football, Cousins' agent Mike McCartney talked at length about the "unique" circumstances surrounding his client and the organization (video here).

"The Redskins had let us know how much they value Kirk and how they see him as a franchise quarterback," McCartney said. "I do think it was a question of whether they were going to put the exclusive tag or the non-exclusive tag on him. When they put the exclusive tag on him they tried to send a message that, 'Hey, Kirk is our guy, we believe in him.' We took that the right way."

In 2016, the Redskins placed the non-exclusive tag on Cousins. In 2017, the team went with the exclusive tag, meaning Cousins and McCartney are not able to shop their services freely to other teams in the NFL. For some that seemed like a message that the team wanted to keep their passer, and clearly, Cousins' camp viewed it that way.

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The biggest takeaway came when McCartney revealed he met with the Redskins chief contract negotiator Eric Schaffer Wednesday night. 

"Eric Schaffer is the cap guy for the Redskins and he and I visited last night. We’ve had good dialogue," McCartney said. "We're moving in a positive direction, we're trying to keep everything upbeat."

Contract talks broke down early on in 2016, and it seems both the team and McCartney are trying to avoid that this year.

"I think Eric and I are working really hard so there is not animosity. I think that's really important. The last thing I want as Kirk’s partner in this for him to go to work mad at his employer. At the end of the day his employer is still paying him well," the agent said. "Kirk isn’t necessarily motivated by the same things many other players are so I want him to enjoy work. And I take that very seriously, and I think Eric certainly takes that seriously from the club perspective."

It's interesting that the club and agent even have to consider animosity, but considering how wildly different the sides were in 2016 onthe value of a long-term deal, it makes sense. 

"We don’t agree on everything, by any chance, but we're really trying to work through that to make sure we have a positive dialogue and partnership through this," McCartney said. 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0

Jay Gruden talked Wednesday and said repeatedly that he is optimistic about getting a deal done for Cousins, and even suggested that the Redskins "maybe do a better job" in contract talks.

Optimism and positive dialogue are great, but ultimately, this thing will come down to money. The Redskins will open up the vault, or they won't. That doesn't mean McCartney doesn't understand the significance of the exclusive tag, and with it, a guaranteed $24 million payday. 

"At the end of the day they’re the ones that placed the franchise tag on him. A player, when his contract is up, looks forward to going to free agency to see what his value is on the open market. This is the second straight year that’s been taken away from Kirk so the Redskins did say something about, ‘Hey, this guy is worth $24 million.’ Kirk didn’t ask for the franchise tag, I didn’t ask for the franchise tag. Still it’s a heck of a commitment from the club, and we view it that way."

Perhaps what makes the Cousins situation so interesting is that it's just so unusual. McCartney also recognized that.

"It's definitely unique. I think with Kirk being a fourth rounder who didn’t play a whole lot his first three years, and then the last year of his contract, it was kind of the perfect storm. The first half of the [2015] season it was a little bit up and down, and then those last nine games, he just soared. He took off and took the Redskins into the playoffs, and then, his contract is up. So from a leverage standpoint it was unique for a quarterback to play his best football as his contract is expiring."

Sure it's early in the process, but the glasses on the negotiation table for a long-term deal between Kirk Cousins and the Redskins appear to be half full. For now. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Picking 10 Redskins players to protect in a hypothetical NFL expansion draft

Picking 10 Redskins players to protect in a hypothetical NFL expansion draft

With the NHL adding a team in Las Vegas and the league's expansion draft taking place Wednesday, the internet started thinking about a hypothetical NFL expansion draft.

Since it's June and there's more than a month until training camp, why not give it a shot with the Redskins in mind? 

Remember the rules: In the NHL, no first- or second-year players were eligible for the Vegas Knights to pluck, so the same applies here. Nobody in the last year of their deal, either.

Going off of those parameters, check out this list of Redskins players who'd be wise to protect against possible expansion.

  1. Kirk Cousins - Obvious. Every team needs a QB, and with a long-term deal or not, Cousins is very likely under contract with the Redskins at least for the next two seasons. That has a huge amount of value.
  2. Jordan Reed - This contract jumps big time in 2018, but Reed is arguably the best tight end in the NFL. An elite route runner and gifted athlete, in his last 17 starts Reed has posted more than 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. The only thing that can slow Reed is his health, and that's a guy any team would want. 
  3. Trent Williams - Five straight Pro Bowls and perhaps the best left tackle in football makes this is a gimme. Williams is under contract through 2020, and by then, the money will seem like a bargain. 
  4. Jamison Crowder - Only two years left on his rookie deal, Crowder probably has the most valuable contract on the Redskins roster. Poised for his first 1,000 yard season in 2017, Crowder should emerge as one of the best slot WRs in the NFL. 
  5. Brandon Scherff - He was drafted to play tackle but it quickly became obvious that guard was the correct spot. Even with the shift in position, Scherff made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and looks primed to do the same for the next five years. Still on a rookie deal for two more years too. 
  6. Josh Norman - Don't be surprised that the first five protected players on this list come from the offense. Norman is an elite talent, yet he's being paid as such. In 2017, he will make $20 million. From 2018 to 2020, he will make at least $14.5 million per season. His skills are undeniable, but if you're building a team from scratch, that's a lot of salary cap. 
  7. Ryan Kerrigan - Pencil him in for double digit sacks. Count on him to work hard. Oh yeah, his contract runs through 2020. This one is easy. 
  8. Morgan Moses - Fresh off a new deal that will keep him with the Redskins through 2022, Moses is developing into one of the top right tackles in football. This contract would get snatched up in an expansion draft.
  9. Preston Smith - Two years left on his rookie deal and he still has all the potential in the world. Smith flashed serious sack potential as a rookie but fell off a bit in his second season. Year 3 will tell a lot, but in an expansion situation, the Redskins would rather have him than lose him.
  10. D.J. Swearinger - New to the Redskins, sure, but he played quite well for the Cardinals in 2016. Washington is desperate for some stability in the back end of the secondary, and Swearinger should provide it. Plus, he's signed through 2019. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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Need to Know: Facebook Redskins mailbag—Media disrespect, Cousins risk

Need to Know: Facebook Redskins mailbag—Media disrespect, Cousins risk

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 22, 35 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 172 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles in FedEx Field in 80 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 25
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 49
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 72

Fan questions—Facebook edition

I put up a post on Facebook to get some questions from fans and while I got a lot of good ones I didn’t get any that would require an answer long enough for a full post. So I picked some questions to answer rapid-fire style.

I will do the same thing with questions I got on Twitter tomorrow.

Marc, the reality is that the Redskins took a step back last year. Their record was worse and they didn’t make the playoffs. Looking at the recent history of the Redskins, what reason would an analyst have to think that they wouldn’t continue to backslide. Quite simply, the Redskins are going to have to prove it on the field if pundits are going to predict that they will improve from year to year.

He takes risk but how much depends on why the hypothetical decline in his numbers happened. Is it simply because they passed less often? Was he less accurate? Did the receivers have trouble getting open and/or drop a lot of passes? Did game situations differ? Where there injury issues? NFL teams aren’t simply going to look at top-line numbers and determine his value from there. The “whys” will be very important.

I’m very confident that Su’a Cravens and D.J. Swearinger will be an upgrade over what they had at safety last year. Neither is going to the Pro Bowl but the new safeties should represent more than baby steps towards impriving the position. I also ask you to recall all of the talk of Josh Norman getting burned in training camp last year. He turned out to be pretty good.

I don’t make much out of them. He’s not going to bluff anyone into thinking that Nate Sudfeld is going to be a 2018 replacement for Cousins. And Mike McCartney isn’t going let a Williams “take one for the team” statement affect what he sees as a fair deal for his client. Carry on.

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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