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Need to Know: Which Redskins free agents will return?

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Need to Know: Which Redskins free agents will return?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 25, 13 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

We’re going back to the NTK format we’ve been using since last month. Every day 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.

First, note that this question was submitted over a month ago. I do hold on to questions for a while, so if you put one in a while ago you never know when it could pop up.

I’m answering it now because the time is right. Free agency starts in less than two weeks and the Redskins are nailing down their free agent strategy. They were a little bit behind the curve since they didn’t hire Scot McCloughan until almost two weeks after the season ended. But let’s take a look at the big picture here; there will be plenty of posts with details coming between now and March 10.

Please note that this is reading the tea leaves and looking at what makes sense; it is not based on inside info from Redskins Park. They have managed to keep a very tight lid on what is going on there.

The Redskins have 11 unrestricted free agents, not counting Ryan Clark, who retired. I think they will let the following players walk without putting up much of a fight: WR Santana Moss, OT Tyler Polumbus, CB E.J. Biggers, S Brandon Meriweather and DL Chris Neild.

For the right deals, they might be willing to bring back DL Jarvis Jenkins, WR Leonard Hankerson, RB Roy Helu, and TE Niles Paul.

I’m not sure about what they will do with LB Brian Orakpo and QB Colt McCoy. Perhaps they will make a cursory attempt to keep Orakpo on some sort of an incentive-laden deal with they won’t lose sleep if they get outbid, which they probably will. And although it’s doubtful that McCoy is the prototype of the type of QB that McCloughan wants, options are very limited. Wait and see on Colt.

You will note the lack of any "must have" free agents. There are some they would like to have back but none are close to warranting the franchise tag or any super-aggressive efforts to lock them up before the hit the open market.

As far as letting players go, I think there will be less of that than many think. I can’t see G Chris Chester staying at age 32with a $4.8 million cap number. His job goes to a younger and cheaper Spencer Long.

There is plenty of chatter in the fan base about Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, Tracy Porter, and some others. But the approach with them could be to negotiate pay cuts rather than letting them go and then getting a short-term replacement in free agency. When younger players are acquired through the draft and developed, they would be able to take their places.

Timeline

—It’s been 59 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 200 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 13; Redskins offseason workouts start 54; 2015 NFL Draft 64

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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Trade? What trade? Jay Gruden 'fully anticipates' Kirk Cousins to be Redskins QB

Trade? What trade? Jay Gruden 'fully anticipates' Kirk Cousins to be Redskins QB

If there's anybody at Redskins Park that Kirk Cousins owes, it's Jay Gruden. The head coach put his faith in Cousins two seasons ago, naming him the starting quarterback for the 2015 season, and largely the results have been strong. 

In two seasons with Cousins at the helm, the 'Skins have a 17-14-1 record and have piled up more than 9,000 passing yards, breaking numerous franchise records in the process. While their success hasn't been tremendous, the duo of Gruden and Cousins has put the Burgundy and Gold in a competitive position for the future.

Assuming the Redskins keep their quarterback. 

"We’d like to keep Kirk here obviously," the coach said to reporters in Indianapolis. "We think he’s going to be our quarterback for a long time."

As of now, the Redskins offered Cousins a guaranteed $24 million contract for 2017. The team and representatives for the QB are expected to talk about a long-term deal while at the Scouting Combine, and in January, Redskins president Bruce Allen said he expects to get a long-term deal done.

"It's very important to have your quarterback in place. We know how important that is in pro football," Gruden said. "We see his progress, we see the progress thats he’s going to make, we're excited about that." 

In 2015 Cousins threw for 4,166 yards starting 16 games. In 2016, Cousins threw for 4,917 yards starting 16 games. That's discernible progress. 

"We do like where he’s going with his game."

Gruden liking Cousins' game is the obvious part. The much harder part, however, is getting a deal done. 

"Both parties have to come up with something. We could offer [Cousins] the world but if he doesn’t want to sign it he doesn’t have to sign it," the coach said.

It's interesting that Gruden suggested it's up to Cousins to accept an offer. Some might argue it's up to the Redskins to make a realistic offer, something that didn't happen during this same contract dance in 2016.

Regardless, those decisions are not up to Gruden.

"I leave all those tags up to Bruce and obviously Scott."

Asked why the organization went with the exclusive franchise tag over the non-exclusive tag it used last year, Gruden joked, "it’s got a cooler name to it."

The actuality is the exclusive tag lets the Redskins control the proceedings, and perhaps, shows Cousins they are serious about getting a deal done. 

"I think it will happen. I really do. I'm gonna coach the players that are here and I fully anticipate Kirk to be the quarterback."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins, Cousins agent will meet at the NFL Combine

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USA Today Sports

Redskins, Cousins agent will meet at the NFL Combine

The Redskins will sit down with Mike McCartney this week to continue the process of working out a long-term contract for his client, franchise tagged quarterback Kirk Cousins.

“Eric Schaffer, who’s a great guy and works hard for the Redskins, and I are going to get together this week,” McCartney told Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday, just a few hours after the Redskins announced that they had placed the exclusive franchise tag on Cousins.

McCartney said that he has had “a few back and forths” with the Redskins since the end of the season, when the two sides were permitted to talk about a long-term deal again after being prohibited from doing so during the season as Cousins played on the franchise tag.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

Schaffer’s formal title is the Redskins’ Vice President of Football Administration. In layman’s terms he is the team’s contracts and cap guru. He and McCartney will work to hammer out the details of a deal that, if it gets done, will have a lot of zeroes in it.

How much will it take to get it done? McCartney strongly hinted that their position would start with making Cousins one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the game.

He was asked about using the extension that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck signed, a deal that carries an average annual value of $24.6 million, as a comparable deal to work off of in the negotiations. He said that they certainly would have to consider that contract in the negotiations. However, McCartney believes the price tag that the Redskins themselves put on Cousins is the best indicator of his value.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

“We’re sitting here today, we’ve had a one-year offer placed on Kirk that says he’s worth $24 million,” he said. “Kirk didn’t ask for that, I didn’t ask for that. The club chose to put that on him. Now, we’re very, very appreciative of that. We recognize that that’s a commitment from a club and they’re sending a message by making it non-exclusive that they see him as a franchise quarterback. And they’re willing to do that for one year. But that’s his value right now, until we do a deal.”

[McCartney apparently misspoke when he said that the tag was “non-exclusive” since it was exclusive]

Note that McCartney did not lock himself into a negotiating position, saying that the QB’s value is $24 million “right now, until we do a deal”. He could negotiate from a higher or lower number depending on what happens between now and the July 15 deadline to get a contract done.

In any case, he’s talking about high-priced territory. It remains to be seen if Schaffer, Bruce Allen, and Scot McCloughan are willing to talk about a deal in that neighborhood. 

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.