You have to say this about Robert Griffin IIIhe makes it interesting.After getting knocked around by the Cincinnati Bengals for most of the first half and looking at a 17-point deficit, Griffin brought the Redskins back. The Redskins ultimately lost but Griffin made it close.How close? Possession in the red zone with time enough to run a few plays, thats how close.The rookies ended up going 21 of 34 for 221 yards and one touchdown. For the second time in his three career games, he did not throw an interception. Griffin also ran 12 times for a team-leading 85 yards.But the numbers dont tell the story.Trailing 24-7 with halftime approaching, Griffin got his team going. He got a drive jump started with an 11-yard run on third and 10. That set up a field goal to cut it to 24-10 at intermission.In the second half, Griffin and the offense got on a roll. Back to back drives that covered 80 and 86 yards resulted in touchdowns that tied the game up at 24 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.During those two drives, Griffin was 4-4 passing for 52 yards and a three-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss that capped the second drive. He also ran four times for 19 yards.But when the offense slowed down, the Redskins defense let Cincinnati take control of the game. After forcing two three and outs and a fumble, the defense turned back into the sieve it was in the first half of the game. Back to back Bengals touchdown drives of 80 and 72 yards put the game out of reach.Almost.After a penalty pushed the Redskins back to their own 10, Griffin accounted for 100 yards of offense during a 12-play drive (a 10-yard holding penalty let him pick up an additional 10 yards of stats). He was 8-10 passing for 93 yards and he ran twice for seven yards including a two-yard quarterback sneak that brought the Redskins within a touchdown with 3:35 to go.Niles Paul touched an onside kick attempt just before it passed the required 10 yards and Cincinnati got the ball at the Washington 44. The Redskins were out of timeouts. Three plays later the Bengals punted and the ball rolled dead at the Redskins two. Griffin came in with 98 yards to go, not timeouts, and needing a touchdown to tie the game.He did manage to get them into the red zone. Griffen passed to Josh Morgan for 11 yards, to Leonard Hankerson for 12 and they he scrambled for 10. A 15-yard personal foul was tacked onto the end of that run when Griffin was hit out of bounds (the defender went sprawling to the ground after the hit, RG3 stayed on his feet). Two plays later Griffin ran for 19 yards and all of a sudden the Redskins were in the red zone at the 19 with 29 seconds left. Could he do it?No. Griffin averted a couple of sack attempts as he scrambled to make a play but he was finally corralled by Geno Atkins for a loss of 15. He spiked the ball to kill the clock but after a false start and a confusing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Hal Mary came from the Washington 41. It was short and incomplete and that was that.
It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.
Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.
That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.
MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem
It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out.
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It seems almost inevitable that the Redskins will put the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins between now and the March 1 deadline. This will set the Redskins up to have a very top heavy salary cap structure.
As the website Spotrac noted yesterday, if the Redskins do tag Cousins, giving him a cap hit of $24.9 million, he, Josh Norman ($20 million cap number) and Trent Williams ($15.1 million) will account for a total of $59 million against the cap or 35 percent of the estimated $168 million cap for the 2017 season.
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That’s a lot of money to go to 5.6 percent of the players on the roster. To compare, the top three players on the Cowboys’ cap account for 34.2 percent of the cap. The top three with the Giants take up 29.7 percent and in Philadelphia it’s 17.8 percent. In fact, a check around the league shows that none of the 2016 AFC or NFC playoff teams has a higher percentage of their cap expended on its top three than the Redskins have on theirs.
This caused some consternation among Redskins fans and while it’s something to keep an eye on it does not present a big issue for the team at this time.
For one thing, the Redskins still have a good amount of cap room. If you assume the Cousins tag, they still will have about $40 million in cap space with the ability to create perhaps $10 million more by releasing some veterans and/or redoing some contracts.
Also, it’s a temporary situation. Let’s say that the Redskins hang on to Cousins with a long-term deal and he has a $22 million cap number in 2018. If that the case then Cousins, Norman ($17 million), and Williams ($13.9 million) would still be the top three players on the cap number list and they would total $52 million. On a cap that is projected to be $178 million that would be 29.2 percent of the total. That’s still on the high side but certainly manageable.
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And if you are going to have three players taking up a high percentage of the cap they should be your quarterback, left tackle, and No. 1 cornerback. Those, along with an edge rusher, are the most important players on the team and it’s appropriate to have them among you highest-paid players.
Still, the Redskins must be careful. Signing another free agent with a cap hit like Norman’s is out of the question. And as key contributors like Morgan Moses, Trent Murphy, Jamison Crowder, and Brandon Scherff become eligible for contract extensions or for free agency over the next couple of years, the organization needs to be sure that there is room to retain their own players when the time comes.