Chemistry.Its a word that gets tossed around a lot when discussing NFL field goal and punting units. Yet it remains hard to define and, for some teams, can prove elusive.After adding kicker Billy Cundiff on Aug. 28, the Redskins field goal kicking operation found its groove last week. Now, though, the unit must start all over again as Justin Snow replaces Sundberg, who broke his arm against the Saints on Sunday.Obviously, two out of the three of us are new in just last two or three weeks, said Snow, who was signed Tuesday. Billy got a rhythm with Nick and Sav, and now its all changing again.What shouldnt be underestimated is the importance of the connection between snapper, holder and kicker. Or, for that matter, snapper and punter.Against the Saints, the Redskins field goal unit had no issues as Cundiff made all four of his attempts and four more PATs in a 40-32 victory at the Superdome.But on Monday night, an injury to Pro Bowl snapper Jon Condo cost the Raiders a game. Oakland was forced to use to an ill-prepared backup, who rolled two snaps to the punter and botched another. The miscues led directly to a 22-14 loss to the Chargers.A lot of times it gets overlooked until a situation like that happens, Snow said of the importance of long snappers. Then you end up losing a game. Theres only one of us, and unless you have a great backup, that can happen.Rocca said Snows snaps on punts shouldnt be a problem, given Snows experience. Field goals? Well, thats something else entirely because of all of the moving parts.Its timing, Rocca said. There is a moment where I look away, then look back at the snapper. Once we get all that timing down, that shouldnt be a factor. Its just those couple of days where we iron out all the creases."Snow knows. Hes used to it all, Rocca added before making a joke about getting a new kickerandsnapper less than a month: It keeps things interesting, thats for sure.Of the three, Snow, 35, figures to have the most information to process.Its all the same snap, he said. But you have different language, different verbiage. You have to learn what their calls are, what to expect, just figure out that chemistry with the others.Then theres the actual snap.How far back does the holder need to be to catch 12 oclock laces? Snow continued. The guards on the punt team, figuring out the blocking scheme. Its all the same, but its different as well.Snow, who was unceremoniously released by the Colts after 12 seasons in Indianapolis on cutdown day last month, beat out five other snappers to fill the Redskins opening. Sundberg was granted the teams only injured reserve exception and is expected to take back his spot when his arm heals.For me, I just know I have to perform, Snow said about the temporary nature of his job. Thats all I can control.Cundiff said it took about a week to get comfortable with Sundbergs snaps and Roccas teeing up the ball after he arrived in Washington. He expects the same timeframe with Snow entering the equation.My mantra since I got here essentially is, Be comfortable being uncomfortable, Cundiff said. So, if you start working backward, it took about four times working together before we really started clicking.This week, he added, well probably get two times in practice, then the game will be the third time. So it will be really close.How close? Well find out Sunday.
For the second straight season the Redskins placed the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins. While the two sides are speaking amicably about a long-term deal, the July 15 deadline for those negotiations continues to inch closer without much expectation that contract will get signed.
A second year on the tag is unprecedented for a quarterback. In 2016, Cousins made nearly $20 million playing on the tag. In 2017, that figure goes up to $24.
If the Redskins don't get a deal done with Cousins, many think the organization would not again go with the franchise tag because the price tag jumps to an exorbitant $34 million.
Asked on Monday if another franchise tag would be an option for Cousins in 2018, Redskins team president Bruce Allen was clear.
"Yes," he said. "In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract."
Those options include the exclusive franchise tag, the non-exclusive franchise tag and the transition tag. Both franchise tags carry the same cost, but the non-exclusive allows Cousins' representatives to shop his services around the NFL. If a deal gets struck, and the Redskins don't match the contract, Washington is due two first-round draft picks as compensation for losing their franchise player.
The transition tag carries a $28 million price tag, and the Redskins can match another contract but risk only receiving a possible 2019 third-round compensatory pick if Cousins walks.
Considering those options, another year on the non-exclusive tag might make sense. The NFL salary cap will be at least $168 million, which means Cousins at $34 million would account for about 20 percent of the Redskins' salary cap.
That's a crazy allotment for one player. Crazy. The Redskins do have about $54 million in cap space for 2018, so technically, another franchise tag could work.
But the entire manner of the contract dealings with Cousins and the Redskins has been quite unconventional. The Redskins have already made history by franchising Cousins a second-straight year.
"I think even Kirk said it, there’s a lot of players round the league who are on a one-year deal. It’s the nature of it, we’d like to get him a long-term deal and I think he should want to get one," Allen said. "Kirk’s played well on a one-year contract the last two seasons."
At this point, it doesn't require a degree in advanced mathematics to understand that the Redskins and Cousins have a different picture of the quarterback's long-term value. That could change by July 15th, it could, but it doesn't seem likely. The Cousins camp has little incentive to bend, as $24 million fully guaranteed for 2017 represents a great payday.
And maybe the Redskins don't plan on bending because the option of a third-straight franchise tag doesn't worry them. Or at least the option of letting Cousins shop his services on a non-exclusive tag, and then making a decision to match a deal or receive compensation seems a worthwhile endevaor.
For Cousins, he's not counting out any possibility.
"People, I’ve heard say, ‘There’s no chance they franchise tag him or even transition tag him the following season,’ and I chuckle because if the team has franchise tagged me for two years in a row," Cousins said to an ESPN podcast in March.
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The Redskins’ offseason starts to move into high gear today as organized team activities, better known as OTAs, get underway at Redskins Park.
Players have been participating in workouts at Redskins Park since April 17. The first phase of those session consisted of strength and conditioning. In the second phase, they were permitted to run plays but not with the offense lined up against the defense. Finally, in OTAs, they will go offense vs. defense.
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The practices, however, will not resemble an August scrimmage in Richmond. The players wear helmets but no pads and contact is not permitted. While players do block other players and there are collisions between players going after passes, the action is more like pushing and shoving that it is hitting.
The part about no contact should be taken seriously. Seattle ran afoul of the no-contact rule last year and it cost them. The Seahawks were fined $400,000, lost their fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and they will not be permitted to hold their first week of OTAs this year. The Redskins will be very careful to keep within the rules.
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OTAs will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in each of the next three weeks. The sessions will be open to the media on Wednesday of each week. While player attendance is strongly encouraged the practices are voluntary.
The week after OTAs end the team will hold its minicamp on June 13-14. Minicamp is essentially a continuation of OTAs but player attendance is mandatory.