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Gruden extension doesn't necessarily equal good news for Cousins long-term deal

Gruden extension doesn't necessarily equal good news for Cousins long-term deal

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden installed Kirk Cousins at starting quarterback before the 2015 season. It was unpopular with some at the time, but in the two subsequent seasons, the move to bench Robert Griffin III for Cousins looks good, and the results have been strong enough to make both men wildly rich.

Gruden landed a two-year contract extension over the weekend, which extends his deal with the Redskins through 2020. His original deal pays him more than $4 million per season, and while terms of the extension have not been released, there is zero reason to expect Gruden will take a pay cut. 

Cousins played the 2015 season on the last year of his rookie deal, and made just $660,000. While that's a lot of money for regular folks, for NFL quarterbacks, it's peanuts. In 2016, playing on the franchise tag, Cousins made nearly $20 million. This season, Cousins could make $24 million playing on another franchise tag, and if he signs a multi-year deal, that money will increase exponentially.

Considering their mutual success, a 17-14-1 record over the last two seasons to go with a 2015 NFC East title, it's easy to assume that Gruden's extension could be helpful as the Redskins work to secure Cousins to a long-term contract.

It even makes sense. Knowing that the coach and offensive system that's been crucial to his success are locked in place for the 'Skins, Cousins could feel increased security in commiting to a future with Washington. 

Unless it doesn't.

Think about this from a different angle: If the Redskins really are considering trading Cousins, as multiple reports have suggested, locking up their coach for the next phase is a must. 

As CSN reported in January, 'Skins backup QB Colt McCoy is viewed as a viable, significantly cheaper alternative to Cousins by some at Redskins Park. MMQB's Albert Breer expanded on that mindset,

"The Redskins do believe they can win in the short term with McCoy, and there’s a feeling that it’d be better to just resolve the Cousins situation now—whether it’s giving him a new deal or trading him—and not setting up to be in this position again in spring 2018."

In addition to the threat of losing Cousins, the Redskins stand to lose one or both of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon. Both were 1,000 yard receivers for Washington in 2016, and losing either would be a blow for the offense.

For Gruden, knowing that losing one or both of his top wideouts, not to mention a possible Cousins trade, remains on the horizon, a contract extension seems downright neccesary. If the 'Skins go into 2017 with McCoy at QB and without Jackson and/or Garçon, it seems the team could take a step back from the progress of the last two years. And a step back, in the fourth year of a five-year deal, likely would mean saying goodbye to the coach. 

Instead, Gruden gets an extension. In turn, hypothetically, he knows he has the security to withstand an offensive shift at quarterback. 

If a situation arises where the Redskins cannot get a deal done with Cousins, trading him this offseason makes sense. Get something now before next offseason when the team would get nothing. 

Gruden might not want the Redskins to trade Cousins, at all, but it would be very hard for Gruden to support a trade going into the 4th year of a 5-year deal. In the 4th year of a 7-year deal, however, things look quite different. 

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Kirk Cousins shows off competitive spirit, soft touch - at Jenga (VIDEO)

Kirk Cousins shows off competitive spirit, soft touch - at Jenga (VIDEO)

After NFL minicamps end in mid-June, and before the grind of training camps start in late July, players are free to have a little bit of fun and try to relax. For Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins that evidently means a game of Jenga.

Fun at Kirk's 10 year high school reunion!!!

A post shared by Julie Cousins (@juliehcousins) on

The video comes from Cousins' wife Julie, and the caption explains that the couple were attending the quarterback's 10-year high school reunion. Looks like a fun scene, and the Michigan waterfront looks even better.

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

For anybody that has watched Cousins on the practice field or listened to him mic'd up during a Redskins game, the competitive outburst is no surprise. Cousins likes to win, period. Even at life-size Jenga during his 10-year high school reunion. 

Obviously, contract talks between Cousins' representatives and the Redskins continue, and likely will until the July 17th franchise tag deadline. Last season, Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 passing yards, completing 67 percent of his passes to go with 25 TDs and 12 INTs. He's allowed to have a little fun here and there.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Pressure on Gruden, Galette confident

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Pressure on Gruden, Galette confident

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 24, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles in FedEx Field in 78 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 23
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 70

The Redskins week that was

Pressure Points: Focus is on Jay Gruden like never before—So you lost two coordinators and your top two wide receivers? Well, the Redskins gave him a two-year contract extension because they think he can deal with problems like those. Gruden will be cut zero slack.

Post-minicamp 53-man roster projection, offense—Sure, there will be plenty of lip service about everyone having a chance of making the 53-man roster. But this cake is very nearly baked. But the real competition in training camp will be for the 10 practice squad spots. I picked 25 offensive players to make it and I’m confident that 23, maybe 22 of the picks will be right. There seems to be more questions on defense (roster projection here) but even on that side of the ball, few jobs are truly up for grabs.

Redskins in a no-lose situation with confident Galette—We haven’t seen Junior Galette practicing in the spring before. Two years ago, he wasn’t with the team yet and last year he was held out so he could rehab his torn Achilles. That means we don’t have much comparison to make but he did look good. Next step is to do it with the pads on.

Snyder 'THRILLED' with ruling that should protect Redskins name—The legal part of the fight to get the Redskins to change their name is over after the recent Supreme Court ruling. They will not lose their trademark protection, which would effectively force them to change the team. However, it seems likely that the political and social battle will go on.

Is a Redskins-Cousins deal not only possible but probable?—One analyst thinks that the Redskins have too much to lose to not get a deal done by July 17. I think he’s right but I’m not sure if I’ll go along with his odds. 

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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