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Former agent says issue with Redskins and Kirk Cousins isn't money

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Former agent says issue with Redskins and Kirk Cousins isn't money

For Redskins fans wondering what might be the hold up in contract talks between Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins, look beyond the money. With the franchise tag looming, Cousins' camp knows roughly the money on the table. Considering the $19 million franchise tag as a baseline, what is most important for Cousins and his agent Mike McCartney is the structure of a deal. 

Why does the structure matter so much? Recent team friendly deals signed by the Bengals' Andy Dalton and 49ers' Colin Kaepernick have skewed the scenario for young quarterbacks looking to work out new contracts with their teams. For the Redskins and Cousins, former agent and salary cap expert Joel Corry said those deals should not even be a consideration.

"The money’s not going to be the issue, it's going to be the structure. They’re going to want something along the lines of Dalton and Kaepernick structurally," Corry said of the Redskins.

"Hell is going to freeze over before Mike McCartney agrees to that type of structure for Kirk Cousins."

MORE REDSKINS: TEAMMATES LINING UP TO SUPPORT KIRK COUSINS 

Corry explained that unique circumstances brought about the Dalton and Kaepernick deals, and that will not be the case in Washington with Cousins. 

"It’s basically a year-to-year proposition," Corry said of the deals Dalton and Kaepernick signed. "It doesn’t matter what the contract says if it’s that kind of structure, Mike McCartney’s not going to have Kirk Cousins sign that. You could make him the highest paid player in football with that type of structure and he wouldn’t do it."

So what will happen? Corry said the franchise tag "is probably legitimately in play." And that means a one-year deal worth at least a guaranteed $19 million. While that may sound like a lot, even as the franchise tag is likely to creep closer to $20 million, Corry pointed out that it's only about $4 million more than the team allotted for Robert Griffin III and his $16 million option for the 2016 season. Does that mean $16 million could make sense for Cousins?

"You’re not getting him for anything like $16 million per year," Corry said. "He’s gonna laugh at that.”

Even if the team places the franchise tag on Cousins, both sides can keep negotiating towards a long-term deal until mid-summer. And what might that deal look like? Corry said that McCartney will use the $20 million franchise tag as a baseline for a long-term deal. Further, if the 'Skins do franchise Cousins, it could mean they have to do the same next season, and that tag would carry about a $23 or $24 million price tag. 

"I'm sure the first offer was over $20 million per year. I’ve not talked to Mike McCartney about that, but any decent agent the first proposal is going to be elite quarterback money."

And what's the sales pitch for Cousins and McCartney? Corry said it would go something like this: "He’s an ascending player, once the offense was tailored to him and DeSean was back, you saw what he could do."

The numbers back it up: Cousins broke nearly every relevant Redskins season passing record and led the team on a four-game win streak to close the season and win the NFC East. 

"He had a phenomenal second half of the year," Corry said of Cousins. "He was a top 5 quarterback, granted it’s a small sample size."

It's almost more about what happens if the Redskins don't bring back Cousins than anything else. 

"Fear of the unknown drives quarterback deals," Corry said. "McCartney knows he has leverage. He would do cartwheels if Kirk Cousins can get to the open market because there aren’t enough QBs for each team."

Looking at the numbers, Corry said adding up both possible franchise tags could give an estimate for the amount of guaranteed money Cousins might look for in a long-term deal. So, were the 'Skins to use the franchise tag in 2016 and 2017, Cousins would be due roughly $40 million guaranteed for those two seasons. Should the Skins offer a four-year deal with a suitable base salary and a guaranteed figure in that ballpark, maybe things could work out. 

"If you’re gonna franchise him, you’re gonna have to pay him the average of those two franchise tags," Corry said. He added that Cousins and McCartney might "give you a little discount on the two franchise tags because [they're] getting it a little sooner." 

What kind of discount? Corry suggested a guaranteed figure that gets to at least $36 million. 

The big question in Washington is what happens next, as the clock is ticking. Corry said both sides will likely reinitiate conversations soon, perhaps next week at the NFL Scouting Combine, but that something will happen before the franchise tag deadline in March. Washington's chief negotiators Bruce Allen and Eric Schaffer know what's at stake, and in the end, it seems highly unlikely the sides don't work out a deal at least for a year. It's also possible that some in Ashburn aren't totally convinced by Cousins, which bodes well for the franchise tag.

"It might make more sense if they’re not sold on him, it's a nice problem to have if he goes out and does it again then you know for sure you’ve got your franchise quarterback," Corry said. "You’re not going anywhere unless you have a capable quarterback. You’ll pay for a QB if you have one, it ensures you’re going to be in the mix." 

Asked bluntly who will be the starter come Week 1 in Washington, Corry had no doubts.

"It’s Kirk Cousins. They franchise him if they have to. They don’t have any other options," he said. "What's your alternative? Colt McCoy? RG3? You’re gonna end up last in the division with that."

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

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.