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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.

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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.

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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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Clinton Portis confesses that bankruptcy pushed him to the brink of murder

Clinton Portis confesses that bankruptcy pushed him to the brink of murder

While starring for the Redskins from 2004-2010, Clinton Portis was a beloved player renowned for his toughness on the field and humor off of it.

But a Sports Illustrated story published Wednesday shows how different the post-football Portis was from the one who made a name for himself in the Burgundy and Gold.

After retiring from the NFL, Portis ran into severe money trouble when he trusted his money with people he wishes he hadn't, according to SI's Brian Burnsed. The running back filed for bankruptcy in 2015, and the financial issues he encountered pushed him to the brink of committing a serious crime.

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"On a handful of late nights and early mornings in 2013 he lurked in his car near a Washington, D.C.–area office building, pistol at his side, and waited for one of several men who had managed a large chunk of the $43.1 million he earned with his 2,230 carries over nine NFL seasons," Burnsed writes.

“It wasn’t no beat up,” Portis told the writer. “It was kill.”

He never did follow through on the revenge he wanted, thanks in large part to a friend and therapist who forced him to consider how killing someone would affect his family and all he had worked for in his life. If he had found the person he was targeting, however, he's honest about what would've happened.

“We’d probably be doing this interview from prison,” Portis, who stopped participating in the story after two interviews, said.

Another notable part from the story is that the 35-year-old is experiencing memory lapses and often gets lost while driving, but is afraid to be tested because he's "really scared" of what those tests would find. Overall, though, Portis is in a better place now than he was a few years ago.

"Life is so much clearer after coming out of that storm," he said.

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True or false: The Redskins will carry four tight ends on the roster

True or false: The Redskins will carry four tight ends on the roster

True or false: The Redskins will carry four tight ends on their roster this year.

Rich Tandler: True

The Redskins added a tight end to a roster that had four experienced players at the position already on it. But, make no mistake, fifth-round selection Jeremy Sprinkle was not a “luxury” pick.

Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are both stone cold locks to make the roster. They are the pass catchers who are expected to combine for perhaps 1,500 yards and at least a dozen touchdowns.

The third tight end could be Niles Paul, a veteran who has battled injuries the last two years. He appears to be healthy and if he stays that way he can play tight end, be the fullback on the six or eight snaps per game the Redskins use one, and be a strong contributor on special teams.

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Sprinkle can fill a role that those three can’t—blocking tight end. Jay Gruden had to put tackle Ty Nsekhe on the field when they needed a three-tight end set. That made the job of the defense easier with essentially four eligible receivers to deal with.

With a well-defined role for each player, it would make perfect sense for the Redskins to carry four tight ends on the 53-man roster rather than the customary three. Of course, if they carry four at tight end they have to go with one fewer player elsewhere. They will find a spot.

Running back seems to be the logical place to go for that spot. If they keep, say, Mack Brown as the fourth running back, you then have a player without a defined role. He’s the backup to the backup to the backup. Sure, he can do special teams, but not as well as Paul.

Perhaps if you want to keep Brown you let go of Paul with his recent injury history and his $2.2 million cap number in mind. Or you can let Sprinkle get some seasoning on the practice squad.

But I think that the Redskins drafted Sprinkle with the plan to keep four tight ends. If they are going to go with their best, most versatile 53 that is what they will do.

JP Finlay: False

Man, this is tough. If you asked me this in May, I thought Niles Paul would be caught in a roster crunch. After watching the guys on the field through OTAs and minicamp, this decision becomes much harder. 

Paul played well in those sessions, showed no rust from the injuries and impressed regardless what quarterback he was paired up with. Sprinkle looked like a rookie with a lot to learn, and while he's really big, he still seemed like his upper body could fill out in the NFL. 

In a vacuum it's easy to say the Redskins should keep four tight ends. Like Tandler laid out above, Reed and Davis are roster locks. Paul can help in a ton of spots, and Sprinkle should evolve into the blocking tight end for the jumbo set. 

But NFL rosters aren't made in vacuums. To keep a fourth tight end, the Redskins will have to make a cut, and Tandler suggested Mack Brown could be the guy. I don't see that happening. Jay Gruden and Randy Jordan speak glowingly about Brown. 

This will be a fun roster spot to watch, but in June, before any injuries or the competition of training camp, I think the Redskins keep Reed, Davis and Paul. Then they really, really hope they can sneak the rookie Sprinkle to their practice squad.

Washington has not kept three healthy tight ends on their roster in the last few seasons, and if that trend continues, Sprinkle would make the NFL roster before the end of the year. Keeping four tight ends just isn't a luxury the Redskins have, especially keeping three quarterbacks like they're expected to do. 

Tandler-Finlay True or False series: Leading rusher | Leading receiver