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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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Redskins 2017 position outlook: Defensive line

Redskins 2017 position outlook: Defensive line

With the season opener fast approaching, it’s time to put the Redskins’ depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming days, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Defensive line

Starters: Jonathan Allen, Stacy McGee, Phil Taylor
Other roster locks: Terrell McClain, Ziggy Hood, Anthony Lanier
On the bubble: Matt Ioannidis, A.J. Francis, Joey Mbu

How the defensive line compares:

To the 2016 Redskins: The addition of Allen is a boost but the losses of Chris Baker (free agent) and Ricky Jean Francois (released) can’t be overlooked. Second-year players Lanier and Ioannidis should improve and Hood will be a rotational player instead of a starter, a role better suited to his ability. Andi new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will get the most out of them. The key to improvement will be McClain and McGee. If the two free agents live up to their contracts the line should be better than it was last year. If not, they will struggle again. Slightly better

To the rest of the NFL: But let’s not mistake an improved Redskins D-line for one of the better units in the league. While it’s tough to compare a 3-4 line to a 4-3 front, it still would be quite a leap for the Redskins to move from the bottom of the pack to the lower middle. Tomsula inherited a multi-year rebuild; one draft pick and a couple of free agents are not going to transform the line into a force. Bottom third

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2017 outlook

Biggest upside: Since I used his name in conjunction with that of Dave Butz above, that has to be Allen. He has both the physical ability and the mental makeup to be a very, very good one.

Most to prove: Nearly every player on the line has something to prove but only Phil Taylor has been out of football for the last two years. He has worked his way up from a brief retirement to a futures contract with the Redskins to a roster long shot to a probable starter. But he still only has 21 preseason snaps under his belt and he has a long way to go before he reestablishes himself as a legitimate NFL player.

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Rookie watch: The only rookie with a realistic shot at making the roster is Allen. His Nick Saban-Alabama background has him well prepared to handle the scrutiny that comes with being a top draft pick and the expectations that come with playing in a place like Washington.

Bottom line: The best-case scenario here is that Taylor anchors the line in the middle, Allen’s learning curve is short, Lanier contributes six sacks in a nickel role, and the rest of the players make up a good rotation. Anything more would be a big bonus. Anything less would be back to being one of the worst defenses against the run.

Quote-unquote

Jay Gruden on Phil Taylor:

Well, I’ll tell you, I was in Cincinnati for three years when he was at Cleveland and I know what a force he can be at nose. He was tough to deal with, he really was. We had him for a workout, and I didn’t even know he was on the streets. His knee looked better. He was in good shape. He had a whole offseason and did some good things. I think his body is finally back to where he feels really good. He’s moving around, he’s active, he’s strong, so I like where he is right now. He’s just got to continue to maintain it.

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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Long's injury gives Redskins' backup center Roullier an opportunity

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Associated Press

Long's injury gives Redskins' backup center Roullier an opportunity

Let’s be clear here.

The Redskins’ loss of center Spencer Long for two weeks due to a knee injury is not a good development.

Long is going into his second year as the starter and he still has a lot to learn. Although he should be back for the games that count, he could have benefitted from the 30 or so snaps he would have taken against the Bengals in the team’s third preseason game this Sunday.

Also, the Redskins’ offensive line has struggled this preseason, especially when blocking for the run.

Another half with the full starting unit playing together would have helped them work on those problems. The third preseason game is supposed to be a dress rehearsal and it’s tough to have one of those if you don’t have all your lead actors.

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However, in the NFL one’s player’s bad fortune can be an opportunity for another. Chase Roullier was a sixth-round pick of the Redskins. With Kory Lichtensteiger retired and John Sullivan departed to Rams, Roullier became the backup center by default. While many expected the Redskins to make a move for a veteran backup center, they have kept Roullier running with the second-team offense through OTAs, minicamp, training camp, and the first two preseason games.

He was a bit shaky against the Ravens in the first preseason game but he was solid against the Packers on Saturday. It should be noted that Roullier will be facing the Bengals’ defensive starters on Saturday, not backups and players whose names will soon appear on the waiver wire as he was in the first two games.

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The competition that Roullier will face, however, is one of the upsides here. If the Redskins need their backup center during the season, their opponent is not going to pull its starter and line up a reserve player against him. He will be facing starters. The Redskins organization should have a pretty good idea of what they have in Roullier after a half against the Bengals’ front-line players.

Again, it would be better if Long was there for the line to work on its game. But the Redskins will have a chance to make the best of a bad situation by finding out if they are set at backup center or if they will need to pull the trigger on finding a veteran option.

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.