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Silence is golden as Redskins and Cousins try to negotiate a deal

Silence is golden as Redskins and Cousins try to negotiate a deal

The widow is open but nobody is going to go through it just yet.

Today is the day that NFL teams can apply the franchise tag to their players. The tag essentially handcuffs a player to a team, either precluding the player from negotiating with other teams or allowing him to negotiate an offer sheet but requiring two first-round draft picks as compensation.

To be sure, the handcuffs are golden. The salaries associated with the franchise tag range from about $5 million for kickers to $21 million for quarterbacks with most positions falling in the $10-$15 million range. The salary is fully guaranteed when the player signs the tender.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Upside for Kirk Cousins answering contract questions?

Tag talk is relevant in Washington, of course, because of Kirk Cousins. If the Redskins tag him he will get 120% of his 2016 tag salary of $19.9 million. However, don’t look for that to happen today.

In fact, even though there are at least half a dozen players around the league who are likely to be tagged, don’t look for any of them to get the designation today. There really is no reason for the NFL to have a two-week window to apply the tag. In almost every case the team wants to at least have the opportunity to try to work out a long-term deal with the player before applying the tag. Why do it two weeks early when they can wait until March 1, when the window ends?

Why the NFL does it this way is anybody’s guess. Perhaps they like that the nominal opening of the tag window generates a 24-hour round of media buzz when the sports world is relatively quiet. But they could open the window one morning and close it at 4 p.m. the next day and the timing of teams declaring tags would change very little.

The thing to watch over the next two weeks is what, if anything, we hear about the negotiations between Cousins’ agent and the Redskins. As they saying goes, silence is golden. If the state of the talks stays out of the media, that will be a good thing. If we start hearing reports of talks becoming contentious or one side or the other leaking contract numbers, get ready for a train wreck.

More Redskins: Five who can improve McCloughan's approval rating

Getting a deal done before they have to use the franchise tag would be beneficial for the Redskins in many ways. Once the tag is applied there is little incentive for Cousins, who has made it clear that he is happy to play on the tag and collect the big salary again, to work to get a new contract. The organization would have to go through free agency and the draft with a cloud of uncertainty over the most important position on the field.

Technically, they have until July 15 to get a deal done. But if they can’t make it happen by March 1 there is no reason to think that anything would happen in the ensuing four and a half months.

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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QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

Quarterbacks will come off the board in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. That much is certain. Where those quarterbacks come off the board, however, matters much more for the Redskins. 

Mitchell Trubisky will be the first passer off the board, and depending on the information, he could be drafted as high as the first overall pick, and will certainly go early.

Trubisky, though, seems like the only certainty of a QB going early. Questions plague guys like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Those guys could all go in the first half of the draft, but they could all slide into the 20s as well. 

For Washington, the earlier quarterbacks get drafted the better. It seems highly unlikely the Redskins make a draft day trade of QB Kirk Cousins, limiting hardly any interest in a first-round passer.

The more passers that go before the 'Skins pick at 17 means the more high-quality players slide down the draft board. Look around the internet at lists of the best prospects available. Hardly any signal callers crack the Top 20, but the positional need at QB demands the position be overdrafted.

Though the Burgundy and Gold continue to slow-play contract talks with Cousins, he is under contract for 2017 and the team holds an option for 2018. That means Bruce Allen can sit in his draft room and potentially be a trade partner for a team that wants to land a QB, or just wait patiently and watch as they come off the board and send other desirable prospects closer to 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 25, one day before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 16
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 28
—Training camp starts (7/27) 92
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 137

Wrapping up the Redskins pre-draft presser

We’ve looked at a some of what Redskins college scouting director Scott Campbell said during his pre-draft press conference on Monday, covering possible trades, who makes the final call on those trades, and how the organization handles character issues. Here are a few more bullet points from Campbell’s presser:

—Asked if the Redskins would draft to fill needs or take the best available player, Campbell gave the stock answer. “I guess as you asked the question, you kind of framed it and the way I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.” So, there you go. That said, don’t be surprised if the best players as defined by the Redskins in the first few also happen have the “bonus” of filling one the team’s top two or three needs.

—The needs could line up well because the strength of the draft as Campbell sees it coincides with side of the ball where the Redskins need the most help. “Well, I’m excited because I think it’s one of the strongest, deepest classes on the defensive side of the ball that I’ve seen,” he said. “I’ve told the guys upstairs I’m excited because we’re going to get better . . . And several different positions – sometimes it’s just maybe defensive line or outside backers or corners. Across the board on defense, I’m really excited about the class and the guys we’re going to bring in are going to help us.”

—The draft board is still used after the draft ends and the scramble for undrafted free agents starts up. “There’s going to be guys left on the bottom of that board that didn’t get drafted that we had rated as draftable,” said Campbell. “So that’s our No. 1 targets. I assign a scout to all the coaches, and really the coaches talk to the players – once the draft ends, let me be clear, it’s after the draft ends when we start making calls – the scouts are on the phone with the agent finding out what our competition is, how much.” Campbell said that money isn’t much of a factor in recruiting the undrafted players; selling opportunity is the key.

—The draft board was influenced by former GM Scot McCloughan but adjustments have been made since he was fired in early March. “Well, he certainly had influence on it because we all met as we always did the last couple of years and every team does. You meet right after the all-star games before you go to the combine and kind of get an initial ranking of how you like the guys. Of course Scot hadn’t been here since, so just like when he was here before, there’s adjustments being made to the board with the new information.”

—The 2016 draft class did not contribute a lot but does not mean that there is more pressure on the organization to do better this year. The pressure is always there regardless. “Always pressure. Every year’s pressure,” said Campbell. “I grew up in an NFL household. My dad was a coach and a player for 40 years. Pressure every year to perform, that’s what the NFL is. You’ve got to perform every year.” His father was Marion Campbell who played in the NFL for eight years and then coached for 21 seasons including stints as the head coach of the Eagles and Falcons.

—Campbell also asked for a little patience with the 2016 draft class, citing a group from a few years ago. “It takes a couple of years to develop a class,” said Campbell. “People are saying the ‘14 class had some success. Well, if I read articles and see what happened and what was said right after that draft, our grades in the mock drafts were not very good. It takes time. Morgan Moses didn’t start his first year, you know, but he’s come on to be one of the best right tackles in the league. That’s my opinion anyway. It takes time to develop. I still think with time, that class [2016] will be just fine.” I guess I buried the lede here—Campbell reads draft grades.

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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