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Redskins entering uncharted waters in Cousins contract situations

Redskins entering uncharted waters in Cousins contract situations

Last year, the Redskins gave Kirk Cousins the franchise tag on the last possible day. It looks like that is what will happen this year, with the deadline coming at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

However, Cousins getting tagged and then signing the offer shortly after that was the end of the process. This year it looks like it could be the beginning of it. And when it starts, the Redskins will be going into territory where no NFL team has gone before.

It appears that the Redskins and Cousins will have difficulty coming to terms on a new contract. The gap between the team’s valuation of Cousins’ worth in a long-term contract and what Cousins believes he can get on the open market appears to be vast, perhaps several million dollars a year or more. And since Cousins likely will be on the open market in 2018 if he plays out this year on the tag there is no incentive for Cousins to compromise.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

This leaves the Redskins in a box. They can either pay Cousins a significant amount more than they think he is worth, a move that would hamper their ability to pay other players what they are worth. Or they can let another team pay him and move on at the quarterback position.

When faced with such choices in the past, NFL teams have just paid the quarterback whatever it took to get the deal done. The Redskins don’t appear to be inclined to do that.

Since it doesn’t look like they are willing to bite the bullet and pay Cousins they must figure out the end game. Their options are limited. Just letting him go into free agency does not appear to be a realistic way to go. They can franchise tag him, pay him $23.94 million in installments of $1.41 million due each of the 17 weeks of the regular season, and then figure out how to handle 2018 when it comes around. Next year they could let him walk, franchise tag him a third for whopping $34.5 million (unlikely) or give him the transition tag. That tag would be less expensive at $28.7 million and it would give the Redskins the right to match any offer sheet.

None of those 2018 options seems to be particularly attractive. The franchise tag is prohibitively expensive, the transition tag is only slightly less so but it gives the Redskins only the chance to match an offer made to Cousins without the option of taking draft pick compensation. And with either tag, Cousins could simply sign the tag, play out the year on it and become a free agent in 2019 with all tag options off the table.

Their other option is the tag and trade this year. This would entail Cousins getting tagged and then working out a trade that may bring less than the two first-round draft picks as compensation. In fact, it could bring a lot less.

No matter how they proceed, the Redskins will be in uncharted waters. No quarterback has played a second season on the franchise tag. And no quarterback who has thrown for over 4,000 yards in back-to-back seasons has played the next season for another team. So, either way the Redskins are doing something that never has been done before.

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If the Redskins move on from Cousins, whether it’s this year or next, they will be saying no to the NFL conventional wisdom that says you pay whatever it takes to hold on to your quarterback. When, say, the Patriots do something unconventional or when the Seahawks don’t follow the NFL orthodoxy the assumption is that they know what they are doing and that everything will turn out fine.

However, the Redskins do not enjoy a sterling reputation for being smart operators. Their last major quarterback decision, trading three first-round picks and a second for Robert Griffin III, quickly turned into a disaster. They will get no benefit of the doubt no matter how they proceed here.

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.

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Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Following a slew of reports that cast doubt on the Redskins reaching a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins, ESPN's Dianna Russini tweeted Tuesday that the impass is not about money. 

If the report is true, then Washington has run out of good options for retaining Cousins in the long term.

It's possible the team could use a third-straight franchise tag to keep him next season, but the price tag around $34 million would be astronomical for one season.

The transition tag would be worth in the neighborhood of $28 million. 

Russini doesn't elaborate on the reasons behind her report that Cousins wouldn't be happy in Washington regardless of price. But it's important to note that both teams and players have incentive to create leverage in contract negotiations through the media. 

The Redskins have until July 17 to reach a long-term deal with Cousins. 

MORE REDSKINS: Backup center again a question mark for the Redskins

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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Interior offensive line

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Interior offensive line

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Interior offensive line

On the roster: Guards Shawn Lauvao, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio, Tyler Catalina, Kyle Kalis, Isaiah Williams; Centers Spencer Long, Chase Roullier, Ronald Patrick

Locks: Lauvao, Scherff, Kouandjio, Long

As noted here this morning, there seemed to be a pretty good chance that Lauvao would be on his way out. But free agency and the draft went by and no serious challenger for him was acquired. It looks like they will let him play out the last year of his free agent contract and then see what they want to do with him next year when he will be a 30-year-old free agent.

RELATED: 3 Redskins who are up, 3 down

The Redskins might like Kouandjio, going into his third season, to emerge as a viable option as Lauvao’s successor. He was not up to the task in a couple of spot starts last year. But, just like Lauvao, he can take some comfort in the fact that the organization did not expend any major resources on bringing in another guard for competition.

Scherff went to the Pro Bowl in his second year in the league. He will be a fixture at right guard for the next decade or so, provided the Redskins can figure out a way to get a third high-priced offensive lineman under the salary cap (in addition to tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses).

Long did a solid job in his first year as the starting center. He will anchor the line again this year. He is eligible for a contract extension and it will be interesting to see if talks heat up between now and training camp.

On the bubble: Roullier

In an ideal Redskins world, the rookie sixth-round pick would be able to learn center and both guard spots well enough to be a workable fill-in on game days. In the real world, that may not work. During minicamp, offensive line coach Bill Callahan told me that while he had been impressed with how well Roullier had picked things up so far, the real test will come with the pads on in Richmond.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

Long shots: Catalina, Kalais, Williams, Patrick

You never know what will happen during the preseason but it seems that the practice squad is the best hope for any of these guys to be around Ashburn in the fall. If injury or issues with Roullier’s development create a hole in the depth chart in the 53-man roster the organization is likely to go outside to find help off the waiver wire. Two or three on this list are likely to be back for another shot in 2018.  

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver

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.