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Need to Know: In what round will the Redskins draft a quarterback?

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Need to Know: In what round will the Redskins draft a quarterback?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 3, six days before the start of NFL free agency.

After Cousins tag, when will the Redskins draft a quarterback?

The sharp reader will notice the wording in the headline referring to “when” the Redskins will draft a quarterback, not “if” they will. With Kirk Cousins essentially on a one-year deal with the franchise tag, Robert Griffin III set to leave town, and Colt McCoy a free agent and possibly headed elsewhere for a better opportunity they need depth at the position immediately and a backup plan for the longer term.

I don’t think that the Redskins will take a quarterback in the first two rounds. Even if there is one that Scot McCloughan likes available when the Redskins are on the clock other needs, including the defensive line and a young wide receiver for whoever the quarterback is to throw to, will be viewed as the better available player.

But anytime from Round 3 on, I would not be surprised to see the Redskins turn in a card with a QB’s name on it. It could be Dak Prescott of Mississippi State in the third or fourth, or Kevin Hogan of Stanford sometime on Saturday.

Regardless of who the Redskins take, if McCoy does depart to a place where he thinks he has a better shot at starting some games they will have to find a veteran backup. Perhaps they could go after Matt Schaub or Charlie Whitehurst or one of a few other McCoy types. It’s not ideal but a later-round rookie is not going to be ready to step in if Cousins is sidelined.

But the Redskins do need to be prepared for the possibility that Cousins will move on in 2017 if he and the team can’t come to an agreement and the Redskins don’t think he will be worth the $23.9 million it would cost to tag him for a second year. That’s why they need to get a young QB in the system.

I believe the Cousins will end up staying. I think the Redskins and Cousins will end up agreeing to a long-term contract either this year or possibly in 2017. But McCloughan and the organization can’t gamble with the future of the most important position on the field. They haven’t drafted a QB since they took Cousins in 2012 and they need to get one in the system.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 53 days ago. It will be about 192 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 6; Redskins offseason workouts start 46; 2016 NFL draft 56

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Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

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. 

Think again. 

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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Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

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.

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

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.

MORE REDSKINS: Allen says new stadium ahead of schedule 

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.

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.