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Need to Know: Redskins taking big risks either way with Cousins contract

Need to Know: Redskins taking big risks either way with Cousins contract

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 8, 20 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 180 days ago. It will be 66 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 7; Preseason opener @ Falcons 34; Final roster cut 57

The Redskins are gambling on Cousins either way

Redskins fans have divided into two camps when it comes to a long-term contract for quarterback Kirk Cousins.

—The Redskins should do whatever it takes to sign him before the deadline (coming up on July 15, one week from today) because it will cost them a lot more if they wait and he has even a good year, let along a great one.

—The Redskins need to wait and see if Cousins really is the quarterback he was in the last 10 games of last year. Paying top-shelf quarterback money to a mid- to lower- level quarterback would be a salary cap disaster.

The thing is both sides have a valid argument.

—If they give in and pay Cousins what he wants now, something in the neighborhood of $22 million per year with some $50 million or more in guaranteed money, the Redskins risk overpaying their quarterback. That could leave them unable to acquire and/or retain the talent needed to win with a pedestrian QB.

—If they hold firm and then watch as Cousins plays well in 2016 they would be plunged into a quarterback market where contracts for even mediocre quarterbacks are high and getting higher. They could end up paying several million dollars more per season for Cousins’ services than they would have if they had just slightly overpaid him (from their perspective) in 2016.

So there are major risks either way the Redskins go. The way it looks right now, they are leaning towards holding firm, willing to take the chance that Cousins will have a full season like he had the last 10 games of 2015, potentially sending the cost of a long-term contract skyrocketing.

I have a hard time being too critical of them if they do stick with this stance. It is very rational for the organization to believe they don’t yet have a handle on his true value based on one season as a full-time starter and therefore a major, long term commitment right now would be unwise. They will be happy to pay a quarterback $20 million to $25 million, perhaps more, if they are sure that he is worth the money.

It should be noted that there are risks on Cousins’ end as well. If he doesn’t take the Redskins’ last, best offer he risks seeing that money vaporize if he plays poorly or gets injured. But if he takes it and leads the team on a deep playoff run he will have left millions of dollars on the table.

As we get closer to the deadline, the risks tend to get magnified. And as that happens, the pressure to make a deal increases exponentially. We will see if Cousins and the Redskins both stand firm as the pressure mounts or if one or the other gives way.

In case you missed it 

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Rookie hazing: DeSean Jackson turns Kendall Fuller around in 1v1 drills (VIDEO)

Rookie hazing: DeSean Jackson turns Kendall Fuller around in 1v1 drills (VIDEO)

Beating up on Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller has become normal on social media the last few weeks, but the rookie still has a bright NFL future, not to mention he opened the season with a string of strong games. 

That said, Fuller has had a rough last few weeks for the 'Skins. Manning the slot corner role, the rookie has faced tough matchups and been caught out of position a few times. Coaches always talk about Fuller's work ethic in practice, and he goes hard each session. But on Wednesday, Fuller was put in a tough spot, facing off against DeSean Jackson in one-on-ones.

One-on-one drills between defensive backs and wide receivers are inherently titled toward the offensive side of the field. There are no linebackers, no pass rush, no safety help. Generally, receivers should catch the pass in one-on-one drills. 

Few corners perform well against Jackson in one-on-ones, but it's worse when the cameras are rolling. Watch the full video above. 

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Williams, Lichtensteiger back at practice for Redskins

Williams, Lichtensteiger back at practice for Redskins

The Redskins had two offensive linemen return to practice today and they had some others out of practice, nursing injuries.

Back were left tackle Trent Williams and center Kory Lichtensteiger. Williams has finished serving a four-game suspense for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Lichtensteiger has been on injure reserve with a calf injury since Week 4. Just before practice the team announced that he has been designated to return from IR and that his three-week practice window before the team needs to activate him starts today.

His window is unlikely to be that long. Starting center Spencer Long is in the league concussion protocol after leaving the Cardinals game on Sunday. John Sullivan finished up the game in place of Long and he is the likely starter if Long can’t play against the Eagles this Sunday. However there is not another backup center on the roster and if Long is out in Philadelphia Lichtensteiger probably will be activated to play should something happen to Sullivan.

Left guard Shawn Lauvao and tackle Ty Nsekhe were not participating in practice either. Nsekhe has been fighting through an ankle injury as he was subbing for Williams. The nature of Lauvao’s injury is unclear.

On defense, safeties Will Blackmon and Donte Whitner were absent from practice. Blackmon is in the concussion protocol. The reason for Whitner’s a sense is unknown.

Jay Gruden will update the media on the various injuries after practice.