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.
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Should the Redskins draft another quarterback?
Finlay: No. The guess here is that Kirk Cousins gets hit with the franchise tag, again, and plays 2017 with Washington. That means the 'Skins will have Cousins making $24 million, Colt McCoy making another $3 million and a developmental passer in Nate Sudfeld. The team does not need to add another QB into the mix.
The big caveat: Should Washington not franchise Cousins, not ink him to a long-term deal, or figure out a trade, then drafting another quarterback would make sense. It seems highly unlikely that Cousins won't play for the Redskins in 2017, both the coach and team president said they expect him back, but crazy stuff happens. Many in the organization feel quite strong about McCoy's ability to run the team as needed, but if Cousins is gone, then another QB makes sense.
The calendar is on the Redskins side. Whatever happens with Cousins will come long before the NFL Draft in April, so the team can react accordingly.
Tandler: If Cousins signs a long-term contract between now and the draft or if the Redskins have a very high degree of confidence that they will be able to get a deal done by the July 15 deadline they should not look elsewhere for a quarterback. But if Cousins is playing on the tag, meaning that 2017 is much more likely than not to be his last year in a Redskins uniform, the team needs to look seriously at draft a quarterback.
The team is not at all prepared to be without Cousins in 2018. Backup Colt McCoy could be a free agent and even if he returns he is only a temporary (as in part of the season) fix. Sudfeld has a long way to go and there is a good chance he never gets there.
Waiting until 2018 to resolve the situation would be a big mistake. That would leave them either needing to dip into a pool of free agent quarterbacks, which is always awful, or forced to take a quarterback high in the draft. Both of those “solutions” have double-digit losses written all over them.
They have two fourth-round picks this year and two in the fifth round. That is the area where they need to be on the lookout for the next Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson (or, for that matter, Kirk Cousins). In fact, if the Redskins had used their fourth-round pick last year instead of trading it away for two fifths they could have had Prescott. Can you imagine how much better the Redskins’ leverage would be in the Cousins negotiations if they had a capable starting quarterback waiting in the wings?
But back to reality. The best thing for the Redskins to do would be to sign Cousins to a long-term deal and be done with the quarterback position for the next several years. If they can’t do that they need to be proactive about finding his successor. That could well mean getting a quarterback in the middle rounds and using 2017 to groom him to be the 2018 starter. Yes, they have plenty of other needs but they must do what they must do to set up the most important position on the field for success.
More offseason questions:
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