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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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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!