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Need to Know: Should the Redskins give Reed a new contract?

Need to Know: Should the Redskins give Reed a new contract?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 24, 31 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five thoughts on the state of the Redskins

If you were hit by the Blizzard of 2016, I hope all is well and you and yours got through it safely. Here are a few thoughts on the Redskins:

—Should the Redskins sign Jordan Reed, who is slated to be a free agent after the 2016 season, to a contract extension a year early like they did with Trent Williams and Ryan Kerrigan? As of now, Reed is slated to make $685,888 in 2016, a very cheap pride for one of the top five players at his position. There is a lot to consider, including his injury history. Another consideration, however, is the need to avoid letting a grossly underpaid player take the field. The team is likely to ask some players to take pay cuts this year because they are not likely to play up to their salaries. That is a lot easier to do if your track record says you will reward players who over perform their contracts. If you say, “A deal is a deal” to your best offensive player when he is underpaid then why wouldn’t a player say the same when asking him to take a pay cut? Keeping Reed on the cheap this year could prove to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

—Another factor to consider in the Reed contract situation is the franchise tag. It’s relatively inexpensive for tight ends. Last year only the kicker/punter tag was worth less than the $8.33 million tight end tag. It will be more expensive in 2017 but it is unlikely to top $10 million and it is a very viable option if Reed plays through 2016 and they can’t come to a contract agreement. However, the franchise tag needs to be available and if they can’t come to an agreement with Kirk Cousins this year and need to tag him they will have to make a choice to tag one or the other a year from now. That is one of the dangers of just tagging Cousins rather than working out a contract with him; you lose leverage down the road.

—The time to rehash the Redskins career of Robert Griffin III will come soon enough but one thing, one misstep, sticks out in my mind. It was the week after he was injured against the Ravens, when Griffin scrambled towards the sideline but instead of running out of bounds he cut back to the middle of the field and met up with Haloti Ngata, who hit him and caused his knee to bend in an unnatural direction. A few days later I asked Kyle Shanahan if they told Griffin he should have proceed to go out of bounds. No, said the offensive coordinator, they were fine with him going for the extra yardage. Griffin also said he did not regret going back into the dangerous area of the field. The play was the beginning of the end of RG3 and the coaches, like Griffin, saw no need to have their high-cost asset protect himself.

—Should the Redskins re-sign Terrance Knighton? Teams didn’t test him very often running the ball, running 74 plays up the middle per the NFL. Only five teams faced fewer runs up the gut. But teams saw success when they did go there, averaging 5.1 yards per attempt, 29th in the NFL. Sure, it’s more complex than that and Pot Roast wasn’t necessarily in the lineup for all of those runs. But if you also look at plays off of left guard (30, 4.1 avg., 15th) and right guard (58, 3.8 avg., 15th), you don’t see some sort of impregnable fortress in the middle of the defense. This doesn’t equal letting Knighton walk necessarily but they will need better play from him if he stays.

 

—During the season I was thinking that there was zero chance that Alfred Morris would be back with the Redskins. I still think the chances are against it but now I’m not so sure. If they let him walk in free agency they would not have a reliable running back on the roster. They would have to sign one in free agency and it’s possible that Scot McCloughan will look around and find that Morris is the best option if they can come to a contract agreement. I still think the chances are against it but at this point I’m not going to rule it out.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 14 days ago. It will be about 231 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 31; NFL free agency starts 45; 2016 NFL draft 95

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You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER ON SOME KEY KIRK COUSINS STATS

Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offense—Does Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

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.

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