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Need to Know: Why did the Redskins stick with the 3-4 defense?

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Need to Know: Why did the Redskins stick with the 3-4 defense?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 6, 10 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.

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.

I’ll also take your questions via email. Hit me up rich.tandler+csn@gmail.com with “NTK” in the subject line. Just keep them relatively brief, please. 

During the course of the week I get some good questions that don’t quite need a full post to answer. So on the weekend I like to empty out the inbox and go through and answer some rapid fire style. The first two questions are from the Real Redskins Facebook page.

I think the better question is, at this point, why change? They already had the personnel for a 3-4 except for the nose tackle and they added a good one in Terrance Knighton. I know that fans are somehow convinced that the 4-3 is, by its very nature, a superior defense. But the facts just don’t back that up. A total of 17 teams are expected to use the 3-4 as their base alignment. Some of those defenses will be good, some will not. But it will be due to the personnel they have and not how they typically line up. If the early looks at OTAs are any indication, however, the Redskins will line up in multiple fronts this year so they will be plenty of chances for the fans to see their beloved four-man fronts.

You can look at this question one of two ways. I think that it will be very tough for any player to make the 53-man roster at quarterback. But I wouldn’t call the position “overloaded” because there are question marks about all three of the players on the depth chart. In fact, I don’t think that any of the positions on the Redskins are overloaded in the true sense of the word. But I do think that, say, an undrafted free agent would find it tough to break through at wide receiver, quarterback, or running back. I think a player could surprise just about anywhere else.

This is asked of Jay Gruden on occasion and the answer he generally gives is that being a dropback passer has to be part of the skill set of a successful NFL quarterback. There are times when you have to drop back time after time and nothing else a quarterback does can compensate for not being able to do that. That’s accurate and I’ll add that nothing really “fit” Griffin last year. He didn’t run particularly well, he didn’t make plays on the move, and the read option was a dud. So perhaps part of the problem is finding that “fit”. Griffin might not be a drop back passer but just like Tom Brady needs to run sometime, performing from the pocket is something that Griffin has to be able to do. Everything else, the mobile QB stuff, can build off of that.

I’ve looked at Morris’ future a few times here and the answer has always that it’s too soon to tell. Gruden speaks highly of Morris and always makes sure to mention that Morris is going to be the No. 1 back. But that doesn’t address the long-term future of Morris as a Redskin. My take on it right now is that it is unusual spend a third-round pick on a running back and give the one you have a big free agent contract if the new guy shows anything. That’s just right now, though. Again, it’s early and a lot will happen between now and when free agency opens up next March.

Timeline

—It’s been 160 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 99 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 10; Redskins training camp starts 54; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 110

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.