Quick Links

Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden is trying to make things difficult on Cousins

Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden is trying to make things difficult on Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 9, 49 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 151 days ago. It will be 95 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 49; Preseason opener @ Falcons 63; Final roster cut to 53, 86

Cousins’ confidence growing

It’s generally a mistake to read too much into performances that take place in shorts and football helmets. For one thing, not everyone participates and players are often going up against reserves and others who just hope to make the roster so they can be reserves. Also, contact is such an important part of the game that any drills that take place without it are difficult to evaluate.

With that said, it’s hard not to notice that Kirk Cousins has looked very, very good in OTAs so far. He looked particularly good on Wednesday as he made quick decisions and zipped the ball to receivers with touch and authority.

“He’s obviously playing with a lot of confidence, having a lot of fun,” said Jay Gruden after the OTA on Wednesday. “He’s got great command of the offense, that’s the one thing that you notice. He’s got great command over the formations. He’s got great command on the snap count, and that’s something he didn’t so much have the first year I was here and even last year in this time of year.”

It’s not a coincidence that in his fifth NFL season Cousins suddenly has great command. This is his first offseason as the starter and he is showing that he intends to take advantage of the opportunity.

Gruden does not intend to make things easy for Cousins.

“I’m trying to challenge him situationally,” said Gruden “Backed up, red zone, third down, fourth down, two-point plays, all of it and trying to see how he handles them. Offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators, offensive line, everybody, not just the quarterbacks. We’re trying to challenge him and push the envelope a little bit and get as many situational problems as we can, get them on tape and see how they react and coach and correct off of it. He’s much more comfortable in all of them.”

So far, he has met the challenge. But, again, his success has to be evaluated considering that they are not wearing pads. While it would be great to have an answer about how Cousins will perform in 2016 right now we are going to have to wait.

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.