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Need to Know: What is Alfred Morris' future with the Redskins?

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Need to Know: What is Alfred Morris' future with the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 20, 41 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:

We don’t know what Scot McCloughan thinks of Alfred Morris, who has played in the last two Pro Bowls. The GM has had very little media availability since coming to the Redskins in early January and Morris is not a topic that has come up.

But even if he had said anything, what someone like McCloughan does is much more instructive than what he says. It has been pretty well established that they were in touch with free agent running back Justin Forsett, who was popped into the Ravens’ lineup last year after Ray Rice was suspended and ultimately released, in the lead to free agency. All he did was rush for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns.

Sure, the Redskins thought they might be in need of a back to replace Roy Helu, who signed a free agent contract with the Raiders soon after the start of free agency. But you don’t show interest in Forsett if you want someone to play around 350 snaps, which is what Helu played last year. After his 2014 season he is either your full-time back or at least in an equal job-sharing arrangement with another back.

Job sharing is something that would have to be an adjustment for Morris. He has been The Man toting the rock for the Redskins since the first game of his rookie season. Since then, two Redskins running backs have more than 35 total carries. Helu has 104 and Morris has 876. The addition of a back like Forsett would certainly lead to a smaller share of the action for Morris.

Let’s look at something else. Morris is heading into the last year of his rookie contract. There has been talk of contract extensions for Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams, both of whom also have deals that expire after the 2015 season. But nothing has been said about an extension for Morris.

It is possible that there really isn’t much here. The interest in Forsett may have been mild and simple due diligence. It is perhaps hard to blame them for not getting into serious contract negotiations with Morris, given the high injury rate at the running back position.

We’ll have to see how it plays out. Obviously if McCloughan drafts a running back in the first few rounds, the picture changes drastically. But if the status quo remains in place I’d look for Morris to continue in the same role he has had for the past three years and a new contract would be dealt with next spring. We can renew speculation and reading tea leaves at that time.

Timeline

—It’s been 82 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 177 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 31; 2015 NFL Draft 41; Redskins training camp starts 132

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

For the second straight season the Redskins placed the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins. While the two sides are speaking amicably about a long-term deal, the July 15 deadline for those negotiations continues to inch closer without much expectation that contract will get signed. 

A second year on the tag is unprecedented for a quarterback. In 2016, Cousins made nearly $20 million playing on the tag. In 2017, that figure goes up to $24.

If the Redskins don't get a deal done with Cousins, many think the organization would not again go with the franchise tag because the price tag jumps to an exorbitant $34 million. 

Think again. 

Asked on Monday if another franchise tag would be an option for Cousins in 2018, Redskins team president Bruce Allen was clear.

"Yes," he said. "In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract."

Those options include the exclusive franchise tag, the non-exclusive franchise tag and the transition tag. Both franchise tags carry the same cost, but the non-exclusive allows Cousins' representatives to shop his services around the NFL. If a deal gets struck, and the Redskins don't match the contract, Washington is due two first-round draft picks as compensation for losing their franchise player. 

The transition tag carries a $28 million price tag, and the Redskins can match another contract but risk only receiving a possible 2019 third-round compensatory pick if Cousins walks.

Considering those options, another year on the non-exclusive tag might make sense. The NFL salary cap will be at least $168 million, which means Cousins at $34 million would account for about 20 percent of the Redskins' salary cap.

That's a crazy allotment for one player. Crazy. The Redskins do have about $54 million in cap space for 2018, so technically, another franchise tag could work. 

But the entire manner of the contract dealings with Cousins and the Redskins has been quite unconventional. The Redskins have already made history by franchising Cousins a second-straight year. 

"I think even Kirk said it, there’s a lot of players round the league who are on a one-year deal. It’s the nature of it, we’d like to get him a long-term deal and I think he should want to get one," Allen said. "Kirk’s played well on a one-year contract the last two seasons."

At this point, it doesn't require a degree in advanced mathematics to understand that the Redskins and Cousins have a different picture of the quarterback's long-term value. That could change by July 15th, it could, but it doesn't seem likely. The Cousins camp has little incentive to bend, as $24 million fully guaranteed for 2017 represents a great payday.

And maybe the Redskins don't plan on bending because the option of a third-straight franchise tag doesn't worry them. Or at least the option of letting Cousins shop his services on a non-exclusive tag, and then making a decision to match a deal or receive compensation seems a worthwhile endevaor. 

For Cousins, he's not counting out any possibility. 

"People, I’ve heard say, ‘There’s no chance they franchise tag him or even transition tag him the following season,’ and I chuckle because if the team has franchise tagged me for two years in a row," Cousins said to an ESPN podcast in March. 

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Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

The Redskins’ offseason starts to move into high gear today as organized team activities, better known as OTAs, get underway at Redskins Park.

Players have been participating in workouts at Redskins Park since April 17. The first phase of those session consisted of strength and conditioning. In the second phase, they were permitted to run plays but not with the offense lined up against the defense. Finally, in OTAs, they will go offense vs. defense.

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

The practices, however, will not resemble an August scrimmage in Richmond. The players wear helmets but no pads and contact is not permitted. While players do block other players and there are collisions between players going after passes, the action is more like pushing and shoving that it is hitting.  

The part about no contact should be taken seriously. Seattle ran afoul of the no-contact rule last year and it cost them. The Seahawks were fined $400,000, lost their fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and they will not be permitted to hold their first week of OTAs this year. The Redskins will be very careful to keep within the rules.

MORE REDSKINS: Allen says new stadium ahead of schedule 

OTAs will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in each of the next three weeks. The sessions will be open to the media on Wednesday of each week. While player attendance is strongly encouraged the practices are voluntary.

The week after OTAs end the team will hold its minicamp on June 13-14. Minicamp is essentially a continuation of OTAs but player attendance is mandatory.

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.