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Need to Know: Will the Redskins risk the downside of letting Cousins go?

Need to Know: Will the Redskins risk the downside of letting Cousins go?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 2, 8 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 46
—NFL Draft (4/27) 56
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 135
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 192

Will the Redskins be able to say no to their QB?

The Redskins are entering a place where few NFL teams have gone before. They have placed the franchise tag on their quarterback for the second time. Drew Brees (2005) was the only other QB has played out one season on the franchise tag. The Chargers didn’t hit him a second time in 2006 because they had drafted Phillip Rivers.

Quarterbacks rarely play out a season on the franchise tag because teams usually end up caving in and giving the quarterback most if not all of what he wants. It’s like concessions at an airport or at the stadium.

There are fewer quarterbacks than there are teams that need quarterbacks. Unless you’re in a position like the 2006 Chargers where you have a ready replacement, you pay the man whatever it takes to keep them. Quality quarterbacks just don’t hit the free agent market. No quarterback who passed for more than 4,000 years in back-to-back seasons, as Cousins has, has played for another team the next season. It just doesn’t happen.

Right now, the word is that the Redskins are unwilling to pay Cousins what he is asking for, presumably a deal with an average annual value at least equal to his $24 million franchise tag salary. But they have time to change their minds.

Will the Redskins just say no to this NFL conventional wisdom that has been around ever since the onset of the free agency era in 1993? Can they let Cousins walk without a viable option to replace him?

When it comes down to it I find it hard to believe that the Redskins will ignore 24 years of data when it comes to free agency the quarterback position. Teams have let players, great players, at every other position walk out the door. But if a quarterback has a good season or two, he stays.

The downside of letting a quarterback like Cousins walk can be huge. If he goes on to be a solid player for someone else and the Redskins go back to struggling to find an answer like they did for over 20 years between Mark Rypien and Cousins, they would be subject to endless ridicule, and rightfully so. On top of that they will struggle to stay in consistent contention for the playoffs.

When it comes down to it, will the organization set itself up to be in that situation? They have a well-earned reputation for making some moves that go spectacularly wrong (see RG3 trade and Albert Haynesworth contract for examples). you have to wonder if in the final analysis, they will see that the downside of paying Cousins more than they may think he’s worth is preferable to the downside of the nightmare scenario of seeing him succeed elsewhere while they continue to search for a QB.

Or, back to Rank’s tweet above, if they should just buy the expensive airport beer or get on the plane thirsty.

In case you missed it

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 countdown: WR Isaiah Ford could be a mid-round catch

Redskins draft countdown: WR Isaiah Ford could be a mid-round catch

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 36 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

Isaiah Ford

Wide receiver
Virginia Tech

Height: 6-1
Weight: 194
40-yard dash: 4.61

Projected draft round: 3-4

What they’re saying

Ford looks the part of a speed merchant with a tight-skinned, athletic frame, including long limbs. He glides off the line of scrimmage, accelerating fluidly to force defenders to respect his ability to go deep and shows very good balance to sink his hips, as well as burst out of his breaks to create separation. Ford shows the initial quickness and lateral agility to avoid defenders in press coverage, occasionally mixing in a hesitation move to get opponents off-balance. He is willing to run across the middle and cut back inside on quick screens, showing the toughness to absorb big hits and still hang on to the ball. Ford was asked to play outside as well as in the slot

Rob Rang, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: The top of the Redskins’ depth chart at wide receiver looks good with Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Terrelle Pryor. But depth is a concern, especially with Doctson’s durability a question mark. On top of that, Pryor is there on a one-year contract so there must be some succession planning at the position.

Ford was a very productive receiver at Virginia Tech, the first player in school history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a season. He has the knack for making the sensational catch and he isn’t afraid to go across the middle.

At 6-1 he has the height that seems to be the trend on the Redskins’ wide receiver corps lately. Ford could be a good mid-round pick for the team to develop in 2017 and be ready to be a full contributor in 2018.

Film review: vs. Tennessee, vs. Pitt

Ford is not afraid to run slants over the middle and is willing to cut back to the center of the field after catching bubble screens.

His run blocking ranged from unimpressive to bad with the caveat that it’s hard to evaluate on the TV camera angles. This is an area that can be improved with NFL coaching. Adding a few pounds to his 194-lb. frame could help, too. It also sometimes appears that he could use more bulk to help him use his height when fighting for a ball.

The good and the bad of Ford was on display in the span of a few minutes during the Pitt game. He made a spectacular catch on a tipped ball that bounced off of both him and the defensive back (view here) while they were on the ground. Ford had the awareness to scoop the ball off the chest of the defender and secure it to make the catch. A little while later he was in a great position to made a catch for a first down but he bobbled the ball as he was falling out of bounds (view here) and the pass was incomplete.

In the games I reviewed Ford showed a good knack to make back shoulder catches, something the Redskins don’t seem to like to try. But the ability is there if they draft him and want to try it.

Potential issues: Ford looks skinny, almost fragile, at 194 pounds. If he does add weight he needs to do so without losing much speed. He ran a 4.61 in the 40 at the combine. Against college defensive backs he looks fast enough but that will be a different story in the NFL.

Bottom line: The Redskins can’t go into the season with a very green Maurice Harris and a very pedestrian Ryan Grant as their backup wide receivers. They need a player who can provide depth in 2017 and be able to step up to have a legitimate shot at starting in 2018.

There will be several prospects in the third- and fourth- round range who could be the guy. If the Redskins think that Ford can add a few pounds without sacrificing speed and brush up on his run blocking a bit, they could take a serious look at him.

In his own words:

On how the coaching change from Frank Beamer to Justin Fuente helped him:

I think it simplified everything for us. It limited the amount of routes that I ran - slants, outs, fades and posts; my first two years, I was running digs, post curls, comebacks, things like that - that was fine. I'm comfortable doing both. The route-running was never a problem for me because I feel that's what I do best. Being able to play primarily 'X' last year, winning those 50-50 balls and running those routes, it helped me.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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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Poll: Who should the Redskins take at No. 17?

Poll: Who should the Redskins take at No. 17?

In a preemptive response to some comments, only room for four prospects here so your favorite may not be listed. I took the prospects from my Need to Know post this morning.

As always, you can vote and then comment here or just hit me up on Twitter. Thanks for participating.