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Report: Tension over Cousins contract a main factor in Redskins firing McCloughan

Report: Tension over Cousins contract a main factor in Redskins firing McCloughan

There were many issues that led to the messy departure of Scot McCloughan from the Redskins. But the primary one appears to be the issue that still is the lead story of the 2017 offseason.

The partnership between the organization and the man they hired to be their general manager in January of 2015 started to fray less than a year after it started, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. After successfully lobbying for the team to make Kirk Cousins the starting quarterback and bench Robert Griffin III in August of 2015, taking five hours to persuade Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder that it was the right move, McCloughan tried to get Cousins, who was in the last year of his rookie contract, signed to a new deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 5.0

But there was resistance due to concerns over how Griffin, who they thought still may have a key role, would react to a Cousins extension. There were some preliminary talks with Cousins’ agent during the Redskins’ bye week but Cousins’ play had been inconsistent and the talks didn’t go much of anywhere. McCloughan got the green light to make a push to get Cousins to sign a long-term deal in December but by that time Cousins was on a roll and the price tag had escalated.

The Redskins had to use the franchise tag on Cousins and that set the bar for the negotiations. McCloughan tried to get a deal done and the early 2016 talks got off to a "rough start," as Breer put it. By later in the year McCloughan was off the Cousins negotiations, replaced by Eric Schaffer. The GM was not in the loop on decisions regarding Cousins after that, including the application of the exclusive franchise tag last month.

There are some “what ifs” involved here. It’s easy to say that if McCloughan had been able to have his way shortly after Cousins became the starter the organization would be up in the air as it is now, facing the choice of making Cousins one of the the highest-paid quarterbacks in the game when he clearly is not among best or starting all over again at the most important position on the field either this year or next.

But that presumes that a fair deal with a quarterback who had been inconsistent and eventually benched when he had chances to start in 2014 would have been easily accomplished either before the start of the 2015 season or even during the bye week. Cousins has been more than willing to gamble on himself and it is not a given that a deal could have been done.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins need to turn free agency focus to their own

Regardless, the conflict over how to handle Cousins was the beginning of the end of McCloughan’s time in Washington, or at least part of the end. Breer also cites Allen’s issues with McCloughan’s handling of situations involving an injury to rookie Su’a Cravens and an incident where cornerback Bashaud Breeland had an outburst during practice as major factors in McCloughan’s departure.

There is more to it, of course. Some players disputed that McCloughan’s alleged problems with alcohol were as evident as some sources said it was when the news of the GM’s firing was first reported. When something blows up in such an ugly fashion there usually are dozens of problems preceding the blow up at the end. As Breer put it:

"Maybe we eventually get more answers on what really happened. What I do know is that the conclusion predicted by some in Ashburn—Eventually, those people forecast, there would be problems over power and McCloughan’s past issues would be raised as he departed—has come true."

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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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

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.