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Need to Know: What happens after the Redskins tag Cousins?

Need to Know: What happens after the Redskins tag Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 29, nine days before the start of NFL free agency.

If Cousins gets tagged tomorrow then what?

It appears likely, but not certain, that the Redskins will put the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins sometime between this morning and the deadline, which falls at 4 p.m. tomorrow. Assuming that happens, what’s next?

Cousins will have to decide to sign it or not—The tag is not a contract until the player signs it. Cousins could sign it right away. That would fully guarantee the contract immediately and ensure against the (unlikely) prospect of the Redskins pulling the tag, which a team can do before it’s signed. It also would require Cousins to attend the mandatory minicamp and report for training camp. As long as the tender remains unsigned Cousins can field offers from other teams. If he accepts an offer sheet, the Redskins would have to match it or lose Cousins and get two first-round draft picks as compensation. Once the tender is signed he can't talk to other teams.

Both the Redskins and Cousins’ camp will watch the free agent market—They will be particularly interested in what Sam Bradford gets from the Eagles or whatever team he signs with. The situation in San Francisco might draw some attention as well; if Colin Kaepernick is released, his new contract would give both sides in the negotiation something more to work with.

The Redskins will look for a new QB in the draft—Even if Cousins signs a long-term deal before the draft Scot McCloughan will carefully consider the quarterbacks in the draft as a developmental project. But if Cousins is still on the tag at the end of April the Redskins will look at the position with considerably more urgency. If they might have Cousins for just one more year taking a quarterback in the fourth round, maybe even the third, would be a wise precautionary move, defense against the possibility that Cousins could be gone in 2017.

The two sides probably don’t move much until July 15 approaches—Talks may or may not formally break off but after the tag has been done the Redskins will turn to other business such as bringing back their own free agents and signing others. And Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, will go about representing his other clients with other teams. They probably will stay in touch but there will be no reason for either side to give any significant ground until the calendar turns to July. If no deal has been worked out by July 15 Cousins will play out the season under the franchise tag.

Timeline

—Cary Conklin, who started two games at quarterback for the Redskins in 1993, was born on this date in 1968. So, yes, the Redskins do have a leap day baby among their alumni. Per Pro Football Reference, a total of 19 players who were born on February 29 played in the NFL.

—The Redskins last played a game 50 days ago. It will be about 195 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 9; Redskins offseason workouts start 49; 2016 NFL draft 59

In case you missed it

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: Comparing Redskins training camp with the New England Patriots

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: Comparing Redskins training camp with the New England Patriots

After a poor first preseason showing and some questions about the physicality of Redskins training camp, JP Finlay talks with Patriots Insider Phil Perry from CSN New England to discuss the differences between Washington's camp and how they run things in New England.

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins Playbook: Jay Gruden calls Ryan Grant "Mr. Consistent"

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Redskins Playbook: Jay Gruden calls Ryan Grant "Mr. Consistent"

Few Redskins players draw more heated fan reaction than Ryan Grant. In three seasons with Washington, Grant has never missed a game, but he also hasn't produced much. His career stats: 39 catches for 412 yards and two touchdowns. 

Regardless, Jay Gruden and the Redskins coaching staff appreciates Grant in a way few fans understand. Grant is able to back up both the slot and outside receivers, and knows the roles of all the players.

"He’s really strong, he’s in great shape, and he’s Mr. Consistent," Gruden said of Grant. "Everything we ask him to do he does, and he does it right."

When Jamison Crowder missed time in Richmond with a hamstring strain, Grant stepped into Crowder's slot role. When Josh Doctson hurt his hamstring and missed time, Grant stepped into his role on the outside of the offense.

Throughout camp, Grant has displayed good hands and an adept knowledge of the offense. 

"No matter where he lines up, no matter what we ask him to do, he can come in the core and block the safety, whatever we want him to do, he can run whatever route from whatever positon and he runs at the right depth, perfect angles coming out of them," Gruden said. "He’s just ‘Steady Eddie,’ and that’s why I like him. I like consistent, smart players and that’s what Ryan is."

Against the Ravens in the Redskins first preseason game, Grant hung on to a tough catch over the middle to give the team one of very few offensive sparks. The problem for fans as it relates to Grant has not been preseason play. It's been inconsistent play in regular season games. 

Gruden believes that could change this year.

"I think people may be surprised with how many balls Ryan Grant might catch. Either way, could happen, I don’t know. I can’t foresee the future there, but I would be just fine with Ryan Grant being the target of a lot of balls."

To state the obvious: Grant is definitely making the roster. Behind Terrelle Pyror, Crowder and Doctson, Grant is the Redskins fourth wideout and one of the few players on the roster that is interchangeable among the Washington receiver positions. 

Grant's career best season came in 2015 when he caught 23 balls for 268 yards and two TDs. Based on his preseason, it seems Grant could surpass those totals in 2017. Much of his early season work has been a result of injuries to Doctson and Crowder, but make no mistake, Grant has been impressive in practice. 

Will it translate to the real games? The opprotunity seems only likely to arise if the Redskins deal with injuries at the receiver spot. 

Last year, Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 yards, but DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon accounted for more than 2,000 of those yards. Doctson, Crowder and certainly Pryor are likely to be the major recepients of Cousins' aerial prowess. Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis and Chris Thompson accounted for another 1,618 yards last year.

Keep in mind, this is the last year of Grant's rookie contract. If there was ever a time to show in games what coaches have long seen and loved in practice, this would be the year. It seems only an injury would give him a major opportunity. If the situation came to pass, Gruden would have faith in Grant. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!