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Need to Know: Will the Redskins and Cousins get a deal done?

Need to Know: Will the Redskins and Cousins get a deal done?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 13, 11 days before the Redskins start OTAs.

Timeline

At Redskins Park: Rookie minicamp starts; media access will be allowed on Saturday.

—The Redskins last played a game 124 days ago. It will be 122 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 11; Redskins training camp starts 76; Preseason opener @ Falcons 90

Hot topic

Earlier this week Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports had a post with some “things on my mind”. One of them raised some eyebrows among Redskins was item No. 4:
It looks like the Redskins will get a deal done with Kirk Cousins.  That’s a nice development for both parties.
That was the sum total of what he had to say on the matter. There were no specifics like if one side or the other was about to give in or if a deal is imminent.

Kirwan is a former NFL general manager. He also is tight with Bruce Allen so this “thing on his mind” probably shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand despite the lack of a cited source or much in the way of specifics.

It’s difficult to see why much of anything would happen over the next two months. Neither side has incentive to give any ground. The Redskins can hold out for a lower annual salary and exit ramps after two or three years while Cousins camp is likely to keep up its demands for more money and a deal that locks him in for the next several years.

But two months from today we will be about 48 hours away from the July 15 deadline. After that date, negotiations on a long-term deal must stop and any tagged players must play out the season under the signed tender. If there is going to be movement towards middle ground it will start to happen as the deadline approaches.

Last year four players—Dallas WR Dez Bryant, Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas, Chiefs LB Justin Houston, and Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski all signed long-term contracts on July 15. Less than 24 hours before these players signed there seemed to be little hope that any of them would get a contract. But the deadline drove the four deals.

With Cousins and the Redskins there are strong incentives for both sides to get something done. The team doesn’t want to go through this again next year with the cost to tag Cousins for a second time going up to nearly $24 million (with the salary cap number for Josh Norman running up to $20 million next year the Redskins would be using up about 25 percent of cap for two players). Cousins could decide that he doesn’t want to risk the life-changing money that will be on the table to injury or having an off year and tell his agent to make the best deal that he can.

No quarterback has played out the year on the tag; the team and the QB have always been able to get a deal done. That’s because the position is so important to the team and because the large amounts of guaranteed money in quarterback contracts tug the player towards a compromise. There is too much at stake to let it ride another year.

To be sure, there is always a first time. It’s safe to say that most quarterbacks to get tagged have a more substantial track record than does Cousins so this is an unusual situation. But the same forces that have pushed quarterbacks and teams together in the past still exist.

Ultimately Kirwan’s “thought” is likely to turn out to be accurate. But it is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Stat of the day

In 2015 the Redskins had 104 rushing plays for either no gain or negative yards. Only six NFL teams had more such plays. Alfred Morris had 37 of his 202 rushing attempts go for no gain or a loss (18%) compare to Matt Jones, who had 38 on 144 carries (26 percent).

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Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot),
Thursday injury report

Around Redskins Park

—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.

—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”

—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.

—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”

—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).

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A little more left arm use by Reed on this catch. #Redskins

A video posted by Rich (@richtandler) on

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Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

The Redskins’ injury report is looking a little better today, three days away from their game against the Eagles. 

DE Chris Baker (ankle), CB Will Blackmon (concussion), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), C Spencer Long (concussion) didn't practice today. That is a substantial reduction of the number of players who were out of practice on Wednesday.

Going from out yesterday to limited participants today were S Donte Whitner (illness), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), and DE Anthony Lanier (leg).

Also limited were TE Derek Carrier (knee), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and OLB Preston Smith (groin).

A player moving from out of practice to limited is no guarantee that he will be able to participate come Sunday but it’s a step in the right direction.

On area of concern is the offensive line. Three players who started against the Cardinals have not practiced this week. One was Nsekhe and he already was headed to the bench after the return of Trent Williams from suspension.

RELATED: Five Redskins who need to perform vs. Eagles

According to Jay Gruden, the line will have enough bodies even if Long, Nsekhe, and Lauvao are out. Second year guard Arie Kouandjio would start at guard and John Sullivan, who finished up after Long left the game on Sunday, would be the starting center. They could activate Kory Lichtensteiger from injured reserve to back up guard and center and Vinston Painter would be the backup tackle.

It appears that Reed is making progress from the AC joint separation he suffered in his left shoulder on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

“He looked good out there today,” said Gruden. “He’s still a little sore. Right now I have absolutely no idea (if he will play).”