Quick Links

Need to Know: Is Forte a fit for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Is Forte a fit for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 15, 9 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

QOD: Is Forte a fit for the Redskins?

Normally I limit questions to one tweet or Facebook post but Justin here had a couple of related tweets that brought out some related issues that I’ve been meaning to discuss.

First, the answer to Forte is simply no, I don’t see that happening. Scot McCloughan has said he stays away from free agents who are in their 30’s (exceptions made for players like Will Blackmon, who are needed as immediate injury replacements). And Forte is a high-mileage 30. He has 2,035 career rushing attempts plus 487 receptions. He is coming off of career lows in both rushing yards and receptions.

To be sure, those numbers don’t mean that Forte doesn’t have some good years left in them. Frank Gore is a few years older and had a good season in Indianapolis after coming in with over 2,400 rushing attempts and over 500 receptions. But I think that McCloughan will let another team squeeze whatever they can out of Forte and pay him the $3-$4 million per year it will take to sign him.

So will they turn to the draft? With Alfred Morris very unlikely to return and Matt Jones not yet ready to take the reigns as the workhorse running back, they do need a running back. Since McCloughan views the draft as “the lifeblood of the organization” he’s rather get one there.

But waiting for the draft is risky. If you go into the draft with a shopping list of needs you will almost inevitably leave with your needs unfilled and/or with a bad draft. It’s best available player; if it’s close between two players, of course, you go with the position where there is more need. But you’re relying on some good fortune there, hoping that players you need are the best available or close to it.

There are a lot of ways it can play out but here’s a scenario I see as most likely. McCloughan stands pat during free agency, letting players like Forte, Lamar Miller, and Chris Ivory find homes elsewhere. Then he sees if there is a good fit in the draft, somewhere around rounds 2-4. If he can’t find a satisfactory solution there he looks at the secondary free agent market for someone like Pierre Thomas.

If they go the veteran route then the leadership role that Justin mentions is taken care of. But if they go in the draft, it’s still not an issue. Darrel Young is the natural leader of the running back group.

What happens if Young, who will be an unrestricted free agent, is gone and the running backs are Jones, a rookie, Chris Thompson and perhaps Silas Redd? That’s why you have a coach in ex-player Randy Jordan who can lead the unit. A team that is rebuilding (and despite their achievements in 2015 this is still very much a rebuilding team there are going to be some areas where there just isn’t a natural leader, a mentor to show the younger players how it’s done.

In 2012, Morris came to the Redskins and the running backs were second-year players Roy Helu and Evan Royster and Young, who was in his third year. Despite the lack of a veteran to show him to ropes, I seem to recall Morris being able to get the job done pretty well.

Timeline

—Redskins Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green was born on this date in 1960.

—The Redskins last played a game 36 days ago. It will be about 209 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 9; NFL free agency starts 23; 2016 NFL draft 73

In case you missed it

Quick Links

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. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLESLeft guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Quick Links

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.