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Redskins 'no-brainer' RG3 option decision a product of QB supply and demand

Redskins 'no-brainer' RG3 option decision a product of QB supply and demand

Even though many saw some upside and some downside in the Redskins’ decision to exercise the 2016 option in the contract of quarterback Robert Griffin III, team president Bruce Allen though it was an easy call to make.

Well we think Robert is our starting quarterback,” Allen said on Monday. “We’ve seen him win. We’ve seen him win big games. We know his talent. It really was a no-brainer.”

The main concern about the option is that it becomes guaranteed should Griffin get injured and unable to play in 2016. With a medical record that includes two torn ACL’s (one in college, one at the end of his rookie year) and a dislocated ankle that caused him to miss six games last year the injury factor is a legitimate concern. But Allen looks at it as a cost of doing business.

There’s a cost to everyone who gets hurt,” he said. “I don’t see that as an individual player thing. Any injury is going to cost you on the salary cap.”

Of perhaps greater concern than the injury problems is the fact that a healthy Griffin was benched in favor of Colt McCoy in late November. His inconsistent performance since his stellar rookie 2012 season casts doubt on whether or not Griffin will be worth the $16.6 million salary that comes with the option.

But the thing is that paying large salaries to quarterbacks with spotty records is the way the NFL does business. The Panthers have gone 30-31-1 in Cam Newton’s 62 regular season starts and 1-2 in the playoffs. The former No. 1 overall pick has completed less than 60 percent of his passes and has a pedestrian QB rating of 85.4. Despite that, Newton and the Panthers are close to agreeing on a contract extension that would keep the quarterback in Carolina through 2020 and pay him something north of $20 million per year.

It should be noted that Newton has generally improved his performance from year to year and he has rushed for 2,571 yards in his career (643 yards/season). He has a chance to be very good. But the $20 million per year mark used to be reserved for quarterbacks who have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Now it looks like Newton will join Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins as .500 quarterbacks with deals that pay nearly $20 million per year (Tannehill’s recently signed extension pays him $19.25 million per year).

Perhaps one year at $16.6 million for Griffin isn’t a bargain compared to the deals signed by Newton and Tannehill but if he shows even modest improvement it would not be an outrageous salary for the team to pay.

It’s a matter of supply and demand. Top-notch quarterbacks are in very short supply and it’s tough to even find one who can be consistently competent. When the demand exceeds the supply, costs go up.

The owners and GM’s who are handing out these deals will, like Allen, say it’s the cost of doing business. But there may be as much fear as business acumen involved in these deals, as Kevin Clark, NFL writer for the Wall Street Journal tweeted after Newton’s contract numbers came out.

The Redskins may not be very happy with Griffin’s play over the last couple of years. But one of the few things worse than putting up with inconsistent quarterback play is trying to find and develop a new one. They have a lot invested in Griffin, both in terms of the draft picks it took to get him and the time they have taken to try to turn him into a dependable NFL quarterback. Despite his struggles it looks like they think it is too early to start looking again. There is some legitimate fear of going down that path again.

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Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

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.