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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."

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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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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

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Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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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!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay wrap up the Redskins offseason and prepare for what will be the most intriguing and the most overplayed storylines at training camp in Richmond.

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

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back