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Fear factor: The Redskins are more afraid of cap problems than of losing their QB

Fear factor: The Redskins are more afraid of cap problems than of losing their QB

The Redskins are about to go where no team has ever gone with its starting quarterback after Kirk Cousins played out the 2016 season on the franchise tag.

Only one other quarterback, Drew Brees of the Chargers, has played a season on the franchise tag. The Chargers tagged him in 2005 and he started 16 games for them. The team had acquired Philip Rivers to be their quarterback of the future but they wanted to hang on to Brees for one more year. That’s what they did and they let him become a free agent in 2006.

Why do quarterbacks almost never make it to a first franchise tag season and never to a second one? Because teams are afraid of losing their quarterbacks and usually lock them up before their deals run out, even if they must overpay to get it done. The demand for competent starting quarterbacks exceeds the supply and if you have one you do whatever you must do to hang on to him for as long as he still is effective.

RELATED: Redskins-Cousins deadline FAQ’s

While you can argue where Cousins fits into the pantheon of current NFL quarterbacks, he certainly is competent. The past two years he has thrown for over 9,000 yards with an average of 7.9 yards per attempt with 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. With him behind center, the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 and posted their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1996-1997.

So why aren’t the Redskins doing whatever they must do to keep Cousins in the fold? It appears that they have a different fear. They are afraid of paying top-tier money to a quarterback who in terms of career accomplishments and future potential is maybe in the lower part of the top dozen quarterbacks in the league.

Is Cousins good enough to compensate for the holes in the roster that may develop because they are cap strapped after paying Cousins some 14 percent of the available money every year for the next five years or so? The Redskins are not sure that he is and they fear entering the realm of being hamstrung by the cap and unable to build a roster that can win with a good but not great quarterback.

MORE REDSKINS: What will happen on deadline day?

The odd angle on the Redskins’ fear factor is that they paid Cousins $20 million last year and likely will end up paying him $24 million this season. They could tag him for either the $28 million transition tag or the $34 million franchise tag in 2018. Potentially paying Cousins between $72 million and $78 million for three seasons seems to be an odd way to show concern about overpaying for an above-average quarterback.

The problem with prioritizing your fear of cap problems over your fear of losing your quarterback is that you can always create cap room. Yes, you will pay for it down the road but if you really need money you can find it. If you really need a quarterback you can’t just pluck one off of a tree somewhere. Even throwing a tremendous amount of resources at trying to get a QB (see the RG3 trade) is no guarantee that you will find one.

We will see if the Redskins’ fears are in the right place or if they are misguided. Given the Redskins history, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. 

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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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Raiders

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Raiders

 

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, September 24, eight days before the Washington Redskins play Chiefs in Kansas City.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 CSN; Redskins vs. Raiders 8:30 NBC

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (10/23) 29
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 35

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Raiders

—With Rob Kelley out and Jordan Reed unlikely to play, per Adam Schefter, Samaje Perine will get his first NFL start and Jeremy Sprinkle will be active for the first time. Perine got rolling as the game went on vs. the Rams. In quarters 1-3 he had 11 carries with an average of 2.2 yards per. In the fourth quarter, the rookie carried 10 times for a respectable 4.3 average. If he can get that 4.3 average all game and carry between 15 and 20 times, the Redskins will be fine on the rushing front.

—It was in Week 3 last year that Kirk Cousins got rolling. After throwing one touchdown and three interceptions in his first two games he threw two TD’s and no picks against the Giants. His pattern as the starter has been to start slowly and then pick up steam as the season gets going. Looking at the injury situation and at a Monday night game at Arrowhead Stadium looming next week, today would be a great day for him to get going. The talk in Oakland is that the Raiders will load up to stop the run and challenge Cousins to beat them through the air. Cousins will need to take them up on that challenge.

—The Redskins have four sacks in two games. It will be difficult for them to add to that total today because Raiders QB Derek Carr gets rid of the ball so quickly. The best way to get pressure on a quarterback like that is to take the shortest route. It will be important for Jonathan Allen to get some push up the middle and perhaps Greg Manusky will send Zach Brown or Mason Foster blitzing into the A-gap occasionally. The pressure is also on the secondary to make sure tackles after Carr gets those short completions to make sure they don’t turn into big plays.

—I was skeptical of the impact that Oakland RB Marshawn Lynch would have in his return at age 31 after a poor (417 yards) 2015 season followed by a season in retirement. And although there may be reasons to wonder about his durability over the course of a 16-game season, right now he’s healthy. The Redskins’ worst nightmare would be for Lynch to get 15 carries and grind out four to five yards per pop. That would set up Carr to do whatever he wants to do.

—This looked like a tough one even when it appeared that the Redskins would be at full strength on offense. If Kelley and, especially, Reed are out, the game looks to be an even more daunting task. The Washington defense is going to have to step up and force Carr to make decisions sooner than he wants to. Offensively, the Redskins are going to need to keep Carr and company off the field by controlling the clock. They did it last week against the Rams. If they can take time of possession 35 minutes to 25 again they have a chance to pull off the upset. It’s possible but I’m going to go against it happening.

Raiders 28, Redskins 21

2017 predictions record: 1-1

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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Report: Rob Kelley out vs. Raiders, Reed unlikely to play

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Report: Rob Kelley out vs. Raiders, Reed unlikely to play

The Redskins could be without two key offensive players against the Raiders tonight, according to a report.

According to ESPN, Redskins starting running back Rob Kelley (rib) is unlikely to play and that Jordan Reed (chest) is a game-time decision but it also is probable that he will sit out. Bot players were listed as questionable on the final injury report on Friday.

RELATED: CRAVENS JERSEY GIVEAWAY A BIG HIT

Kelley was having a career day against the Rams last Sunday before he left the game in the second quarter with a rib cartilage injury. He practiced on a limited basis all week.

Reed, a key target for quarterback Kirk Cousins, missed some snaps after sustaining the injury to his sternum during the game against the Rams. He was out of practice on Wednesday and limited on Thursday and Friday.

Rookie Samaje Perine saw his first NFL action last week and he likely will get his first NFL start in Kelley’s spot tonight. If Reed can’t play, Vernon Davis will start and rookie Jeremy Sprinkle, who was inactive the first two games, will be in uniform.

MORE REDSKINS: A STRONG START FOR SMITH BUT MORE IS NEEDED

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.