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Do the Redskins have any candidates for early contract extensions?

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Do the Redskins have any candidates for early contract extensions?

The Eagles have been quite busy the last few days signing players to new contracts. Two of those players, left tackle Jason Peters and center Jason Kelce, were not set to be free agents until next year. This is the way the Eagles and some other teams, notably the 49ers, have operated for a number of years. By locking up their best players in advance of their free agent years, those teams are able to map out their cap strategies and personnel needs years in advance.

Can the Redskins pursue the same strategy? Could they take some of their roughly $30 million in salary cap room and make an investment in 2015 and beyond?

The short answer is yes but the longer answer is that they don’t have very many candidates for a long-term extension right now.

Before you jump in with the names of Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, neither one of those players is eligible for an extension. Part of the 2011 CBA agreement that brought sanity to the rookie compensation system prohibits any player from renegotiating his deal before finishing three years in the league. So the quarterback and running back have to go on the back burner until after this season.

The players who remain on the roster from the draft class of 2011 are eligible for new contracts as they enter the last year of their rookie deals. The problem there is that there are few who the Redskins would want to lock up at this point. We’ll look at Ryan Kerrigan in a minute. But the second- and third-round picks from that year, Jarvis Jenkins and Leonard Hankerson, have both lost substantial time to injury and, in Jenkins’ case, suspension. Even at their better moments, neither has played well enough to warrant a new deal.

Perhaps a role player like Roy Helu Jr. might be a target for an extension. But with a new offense coming in this year it would be wise for both parties to wait.

Although Kerrigan would be a prime candidate for an extension, he is a different case from the rest of his draft classmates. Since he is a first-round pick, the Redskins have a 2015 option that they almost certainly will exercise. Kerrigan was taken outside of the top 10 so the option would be worth a salary equal to the averages of the top 25 players at his position with the top three excluded. That number is hard to nail down in advance but as of now it look like it will come to around $4 million for the season. After that he would be a free agent.

Since Kerrigan essentially has two years left on his contract due to the option, the Redskins can wait another year and still work something out with Kerrigan prior to the free agency deadline pressure. There is incentive for Kerrigan to wait as well,

Another player who could wait a year is Trent Williams. He has two years left on his rookie contract from 2010 with a cap hit of about $10 million this year and $14 million in 2015. Like with Kerrigan, this one should probably wait a year.

We will have to wait another year, then, to see if the Redskins want to get into the business of locking up their younger, key players in advance of them becoming free agents. With Morris, Kerrigan, and Williams all set to become free agents in 2016 and Griffin going into his option year then, next spring would be a good time to start.

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The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

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Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

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Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

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What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!