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Need to Know: Redskins may have to wait to extend Reed after tagging Cousins

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Need to Know: Redskins may have to wait to extend Reed after tagging Cousins

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

Cousins tag will make Reed extension harder to get done

Technically, the Redskins are over the NFL salary cap after officially placing the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. The quarterback tag cap charge puts them over by $6.55 million.

It’s all perfectly legal; they will be in the good graces of Rodger Goodell and John Mara by the time the league years starts on March 9. But Cousins’ cap hit of $19.95 million, or 12.8 percent of the salary cap, will make it difficult to make some moves in free agency and make it hard to hold on to some players the team may want to keep.

One current player who is not a free agent who might be in line for a new contract is tight end Jordan Reed. He helped make Cousins that $20 million this year by leading the team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions in 2015. Reed is in the last year of his rookie contract and will make $1.6 million in 2016.

The team would like to sign him to an extension but that is something that will have to go on the back burner while they attend to some more immediate business.

This doesn’t mean that an extension for Reed can’t get done at some point before the season starts. But it probably means that Cousins will have to get an extension first.

The Redskins and Cousins will continue to negotiate a deal that would supersede the franchise tag contract. Usually such deals have a relative low first-year cap hit. That could create room for the Redskins to squeeze in an extension for Reed.

Here is how it could play out. The Redskins go into the summer with a few million dollars of cap room, just enough to get through the season accounting for players on injured reserve and paying practice squad players. Cousins and the Redskins negotiate right up until the July 15 deadline and come up with a five-year deal that averages $18 million per year. Since the salary cap is going to rise over the course of the contract it is structure to have a relatively low first-year cap hit of $14 million.

That takes $6 million off of the cap. In mid July there are no free agents worth pursuing so the best thing to do is use it to take care of their own. They would start serious negotiations with Reed’s agent and just before the regular season they sign him to a four-year extension worth about $10 million per year, using some of that recently created $6 million to help pay for it.

It will be important for the Redskins at least to get either Cousins or Reed to agree to a long-term deal. They don’t want to get into a situation in 2017 where both Cousins and Reed are free agents. They would only be able to franchise tag one of them and the two players need each other to be successful.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 52 days ago. It will be about 193 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 7; Redskins offseason workouts start 47; 2016 NFL draft 57

In case you missed it

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

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The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and at the 10 worst.

No. 7 best play of 2016

Redskins vs. Browns Week 4

6:37 left in Q4, Browns ball at their own 30, 2nd and 2, Redskins leading 24-20

Cody Kessler pass short middle intended for Terrelle Pryor INTERCEPTED by Josh Norman at CLV 25. Josh Norman to CLV 24 for 1 yard (Andre Hawkins).
PENALTY on WAS-J.Norman, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced at CLV 24.

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: Sometimes you have a great win, sometimes you dodge disaster. This one went in the latter category. The Redskins couldn’t quite shake the feisty Browns and Kessler for three and a half quarters. Then Norman stayed in Pryor’s hip pocket as the receiver ran a slat. Norman lunged in front of Pryor as the ball arrived and made the interception. He did draw a penalty for doing a bow and arrow celebration but the Redskins overcame that and drove in for the clinching touchdown in their 31-20 win.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: Josh Norman was the story of the Redskins offseason, and this game came one week after playing, and beating, Odell Beckham in New York. The spotlight was burning bright on Norman, and he made a crucial play when the Skins really needed it. Washington got out to a big lead early in this game only to let the Browns climb back in, mainly on the strength of Isaiah Crowell and th Cleveland run game. Losing at home to an awful Browns team would have completely derailed the modicum of momentum Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins established with the Week 3 win over the Giants, and Norman's INT made sure that didn't happen. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!