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Need to Know: The Redskins have never signed a tagged player long term

Need to Know: The Redskins have never signed a tagged player long term

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 14, 14 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 186 days ago. It will be 60 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 1; Preseason opener @ Falcons 28; Final roster cut 51

Long-term Cousins deal off of the tag would be a first for the Redskins

—I’m publishing this about 36 hours before the deadline for Kirk Cousins to sign a long-term contract with the Redskins. I would think that if something is going to happen that we’ll start hearing some rumblings of talk and movement at some point today. If we hear nothing but crickets today it’s hard to imagine anything happening on Friday.

—The Redskins are taking a risk by not locking up Cousins this year but it’s a risk they have taken before. In 2014 they put the franchise tag on Brian Orakpo. He was coming off of his best season since his 2009 rookie year when his contract ran out. He was tagged and signed the tender. The Redskins never made a serious long-term contract offer to Orakpo and the deadline came and went. Had Orakpo duplicated his 2013 season (10 sacks and his first career interception) they would have had to pay high premium dollars to keep him. But in 2014 he had just a half of a sack before getting going on injured reserve after seven games. While you hate to say that anybody “wins” when a player gets injured, it turns out that the Redskins made the right move. Orakpo left as a free agent and Washington drafted Preston Smith.

—The Redskins have never signed a tagged player to a long-term contract. Their first franchised player was LB Wilber Marshall, who ended up with the Oilers after a contentious debate over compensation. A few years later transition-tagged CB Tom Carter signed an offer sheet with the Bears and the Redskins chose not to match. DT Sean Gilbert sat out a year rather than play on the franchise tag in 1997. He was tagged again in 1998 and eventually signed with the Panthers, giving the Redskins two first-round picks. CB Champ Bailey was on the tag for a few weeks before being traded to the Broncos in 2004. They didn’t use the tag again until 2012, when TE Fred Davis was franchised. He suffered a torn Achilles in Week 7, signed a one-year deal to return the next year, and hasn’t played since. Then came Orakpo.

—This doesn’t mean that Cousins isn’t long for Ashburn. For one thing, what happened with Marshall over 20 years ago has no bearing on what will take place in 2016. But the scarcity of quality quarterbacks in the NFL today makes Cousins more of a priority than the other tagged players were (although it must be said that CB’s like Bailey don’t grown on trees). I don’t think they’ll let him get away. If they don’t sign him by tomorrow at 4 p.m. they will get something done next year. It may cost them more but barring a total collapse in his performance they will pay the going rate and keep Cousins under center into the next decade.

Update: I left one tagged Redskin off the list. In 1995 they gave the transition tag to kicker Chip Lohmiller. The Redskins and Lohmiller never agreed on a contract and in August they rescinded the tag and let him go.

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Worried about the Redskins' schedule? Maybe you should be but schedules that look tough in July often look different when the games are played.

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

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.