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Need to Know: Redskins' Hatcher looking for a bounce back year

Need to Know: Redskins' Hatcher looking for a bounce back year

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 11, two days before Washington Redskins open their preseason against the Browns in Cleveland.

If you need to catch up on what's happening in Richmond, scroll to the bottom for a list of our posts from the last 24 hours. 

Hatcher looking to bounce back

RICHMOND—Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher had a tough time last summer after signing a free agent deal with the Redskins that paid the then 32-year-old over $10 million guaranteed. He had to undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his knee, forcing him out of some of OTAs and minicamp. The injury lingered and he was out for part of training camp.

He was never quite right all season. A hamstring injury hampered him in the early going and another issue with his knee sidelined him the last three games of the season. Brought in to help the Redskins bolster their pass rush, he recorded only 5.5 sacks.

It has been a different story this year. Hatcher has not missed a single day this year due to injury. The coaches have been generous in giving him “veteran’s days off” in order to keep him fresh for when the games start counting.

"This training camp’s been easy for me, I’ve had days off here and there it’s been good, actually flew by," he said. "This probably was the easiest training camp I’ve ever been through."

He is looking forward to getting the preseason underway on Thursday when the Redskins go to Cleveland. Hatcher said he did not know how much the starters will play but he will put an emphasis on fundamentals.

“I just want to see where I’m at physically, try to stay low, keep my pad level, be where I’m supposed to be at,” he said. “Don’t try to be a hero because it’s preseason but go out there and play hard and use this as a measuring stick of where the first team’s at right now.”

Despite the injuries, Hatcher actually played better than his sack total indicated last year. He was second on the team in hurries and quarterback hits, just missing many sacks. If Hatcher, now 33, can stay healthy and get a little help from what should be an upgraded secondary he could have the double-digit sack total that many were looking for last year.

We will have to see how things develop but it starts with Hatcher staying healthy. On that front it’s so far, so good.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1:35

—It’s been 226 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 33 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Browns 2; final cuts 25; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 44

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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.