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Need to Know: Are the Redskins afraid of making the wrong choice with Cousins?

Need to Know: Are the Redskins afraid of making the wrong choice with Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 16, 21 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 13
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 60
—NFL Draft (4/27) 70
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 206

Are the Redskins playing scared?

The Redskins appear to be afraid to make a decision regarding Kirk Cousins.

Perhaps a year ago, some degree of trepidation was justified. After three seasons of occasional, spotty play he was elevated to the starting job and after a rocky start to 2015 he played very well down the stretch. Cousins’ contract was up and the Redskins were leery about giving Cousins in the neighborhood of $20 million per year over multiple seasons. While there was plenty of talk about the Redskins wanting to make Cousins their guy for the long term, a deal never came close to getting done and he played the 2016 season on the franchise tag.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - It's tag day

The bottom line, in 2016 they were afraid to make a decision. Perhaps the fear had some justification but there was fear nonetheless.

Fast forward to now. Once again, it appears that the Redskins are going to end up tagging Cousins. Again, they act as though they are paralyzed by fear. They are afraid that if they sign him long term he will not perform up to his salary, drag down the franchise, and stick them with a so-so quarterback into the next decade.

They also appear to be afraid to let him go in case they are wrong about him. If he goes elsewhere and lights it up the Redskins will look bad. They will look worse if whoever they have behind center doesn’t play up to Cousins’ standards. The Redskins have let a few good players get away over the years but this would take the cake.

The thing is they are running out of time to be afraid. They must make up their minds in the next few weeks. If they are going to sign him to a long-term contract they have to do that by March 1, before Cousins gets a tag that he’s perfectly happy to play on. If they are going to trade him they have to tag him and work actively to let teams know that if they sign Cousins, they are amenable to negotiating compensation down to something less than two first-round picks.

More Redskins: Silence is golden in Cousins talks

But my sense is that they are afraid to trade him. The tag provides an easy way out, a non-decision. They can say that it gives them more time to work out a long-term deal. OK, but what can they accomplish between March 1 and July 15 that they couldn’t accomplish between January 2, when they could start negotiating with Cousins, and February 29? There will be no more evidence, no more games played, that will help the organization decide if Kirk is the guy.

He either is or he isn’t. They need to decide which one he is and proceed without fear.

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Need to Know: With 10 draft picks, the Redskins are ready to deal

Need to Know: With 10 draft picks, the Redskins are ready to deal

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, April 24, two days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 17
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 29
—Training camp starts (7/27) 93
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 138

Let’s make a deal

Even though the Redskins have 10 picks going into the draft, Scott Campbell, the team’s college scouting director, said that they will still be open to making deals to add more.

Washington has one pick in each of the seven rounds plus additional selections in the fourth, sixth, and seventh rounds. Campbell said that the team will be happy to add picks if the right deal is on the table. He is not concerned about having too large a draft class competing for a limited number of competitive roster spots.

“Yeah, I don’t know if you can have ‘too many guys,’” said Campbell. “I think the main thing to get better is you want to add competition to the team and anywhere you can add competition, even positions where you think you may be set depth-wise, you know, add more competition. Get the best players in here and I think it pushes each other and makes everybody better.”

It’s a matter of improving the odds of finding players who can help them.

“It’s not an exact science, Campbell said of the draft. “You’re not going to hit on all the guys. You’d like to think you can, but I mean that’s not reality, no one’s ever done that. Just increasing the odds of adding the more players, the more guys that can help us, that’s great.”

Campbell specifically mentioned the team’s two fourth-round picks, which are the 115th and 123rd overall selections, as possible capital to move up or as bait to trade back and get more picks.

What could they do with those picks? If they make a deal that goes by the draft value trade chart, they could trade their second-round pick (17th in the round, 49th overall) and the higher of the two fourth-rounders for the 11th pick in the second (42 overall). If they see a player they like in the third, that same fourth round pick would move them up to from the 81st overall pick (17th in the round) to the 68th overall pick (4th pick of the round).

The return for moving back in the fourth round is not very high. You’re looking at a fifth-round pick in return for moving all the way back from 115th overall to the end of the fourth round. That’s OK if you’re in a range where there just aren’t any players you like but you are very unlikely to get a game-changer in the fifth.  

With 10 picks it would be surprising if the Redskins just used all 10 of them without making any moves. It’s just a matter of if there will be a blockbuster deal involving their first pick or if there are more minor deals on Saturday afternoon.

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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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.

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