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Under pressure: Hall needs more picks

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Under pressure: Hall needs more picks

The NFL is a pressure-packed environment with players fighting every day to keep their jobs and to win games. But some are under the gun more than others. Between now and the start of training camp well take a look at the players who are in the spotlight and under the most pressure to perform. Earlier we looked at Brian Orakpo and today its DeAngelo Hall.DeAngelo Hall has had many memorable moments with the Redskins. In the 2010 season opener he forced and then scooped up a fumble and ran it into the end zone for the Redskins only touchdown in a win over Dallas. Later that year he picked off four Jay Cutler passes, returning one of them for a TD that was the winning margin in that game.The memories are not always so pleasant. The two enduring images of Hall last year are of him grabbing Dez Bryants facemask after giving up a big fourth-down completion that set up the game-winning field goal for Dallas and of him watching while the Patriots Rob Gronkowski broke away from two tacklers and rumbled down the sideline.Hall is a playmaker and he makes plays that help both teams. He also is the Redskins No. 1 cornerback and he is making 6 million this year. His salary cap number would be higher but the Redskins paid him a big chunk of money in 2010. That was part of the reason they were hit with the 36 million salary cap penalty this year and next.The Redskins are looking at moving him to slot corner. In the past, that would be considered a step down from playing on the outside, as teams would go with three wide receivers only on passing down. But as teams go the three- and four-receiver sets in just about any down and distance, the nickel position has become a starting job. In some ways, it is more challenging than playing on the outside.There's a lot more room out there is the slot, Hall said during minicamp last month. The receiver's got two ways to go, you've got to cover the whole field as opposed to playing corner where you can go, that's the sideline.You can see your friend over there, the sideline, you've got help sometimes. It's definitely a lot easier as opposed to playing nickel but we've got a lot of things with the nickel where you've got a chance to go our and have some fun, too.Things will be a lot more fun if he can pick off some more passes. He had the one great game against the Bears but playing nearly every snap in the other 31 games in the past two years he has a total of five interceptions. Thats OK if youre a lockdown corner who has opposing quarterbacks afraid to throw in your direction Its not nearly enough if your game is based on getting takeaways.This could be a make or break year for Hall. His salary ticks up to 7.5 million next year and it goes to 9 million in 2014. If his interception totals dont climb with his salary the Redskins could go looking for other options.

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To Kevin Durant, it's simple: Kirk Cousins deserves a rich contract

To Kevin Durant, it's simple: Kirk Cousins deserves a rich contract

If Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Durant were in charge of the Redskins, Kirk Cousins' future in Washington would not be in doubt like it currently is. 

A handful of days after NASCAR's most popular driver said he's "tired of waiting" for the Burgundy and Gold to decide on the quarterback's next contract, one of the NBA's top players echoed his fellow fan's opinion.

"I love Cousins," Durant told the Washington Post. "I think he deserves a long-term deal. I think so. I think he’s the future for us."

To Durant, the stability that comes from a multiyear-deal would go a long way in providing the 28-year-old passer more comfort and confidence under center for the 'Skins.

"I think he’ll play better knowing that, ‘I’m here, this is my team. I’m rooted in this city,'" Durant said. "I think that all factors in to making a good player, so hopefully we sign him to a long-term deal."

Last summer, as Durant was looking for his next home in the Association, people in the DMV strongly supported the #KD2DC movement. That one obviously didn't work out, but if the Warriors star is able to pitch in on the #KC2DC movement, perhaps he'll win back at least some love from his hometown fans.

MORE REDSKINS: THESE KIRK COUSINS NEGOTIATIONS ARE UNCHARTERED WATERS

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Redskins entering uncharted waters in Cousins contract situations

Redskins entering uncharted waters in Cousins contract situations

Last year, the Redskins gave Kirk Cousins the franchise tag on the last possible day. It looks like that is what will happen this year, with the deadline coming at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

However, Cousins getting tagged and then signing the offer shortly after that was the end of the process. This year it looks like it could be the beginning of it. And when it starts, the Redskins will be going into territory where no NFL team has gone before.

It appears that the Redskins and Cousins will have difficulty coming to terms on a new contract. The gap between the team’s valuation of Cousins’ worth in a long-term contract and what Cousins believes he can get on the open market appears to be vast, perhaps several million dollars a year or more. And since Cousins likely will be on the open market in 2018 if he plays out this year on the tag there is no incentive for Cousins to compromise.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

This leaves the Redskins in a box. They can either pay Cousins a significant amount more than they think he is worth, a move that would hamper their ability to pay other players what they are worth. Or they can let another team pay him and move on at the quarterback position.

When faced with such choices in the past, NFL teams have just paid the quarterback whatever it took to get the deal done. The Redskins don’t appear to be inclined to do that.

Since it doesn’t look like they are willing to bite the bullet and pay Cousins they must figure out the end game. Their options are limited. Just letting him go into free agency does not appear to be a realistic way to go. They can franchise tag him, pay him $23.94 million in installments of $1.41 million due each of the 17 weeks of the regular season, and then figure out how to handle 2018 when it comes around. Next year they could let him walk, franchise tag him a third for whopping $34.5 million (unlikely) or give him the transition tag. That tag would be less expensive at $28.7 million and it would give the Redskins the right to match any offer sheet.

None of those 2018 options seems to be particularly attractive. The franchise tag is prohibitively expensive, the transition tag is only slightly less so but it gives the Redskins only the chance to match an offer made to Cousins without the option of taking draft pick compensation. And with either tag, Cousins could simply sign the tag, play out the year on it and become a free agent in 2019 with all tag options off the table.

Their other option is the tag and trade this year. This would entail Cousins getting tagged and then working out a trade that may bring less than the two first-round draft picks as compensation. In fact, it could bring a lot less.

No matter how they proceed, the Redskins will be in uncharted waters. No quarterback has played a second season on the franchise tag. And no quarterback who has thrown for over 4,000 yards in back-to-back seasons has played the next season for another team. So, either way the Redskins are doing something that never has been done before.

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If the Redskins move on from Cousins, whether it’s this year or next, they will be saying no to the NFL conventional wisdom that says you pay whatever it takes to hold on to your quarterback. When, say, the Patriots do something unconventional or when the Seahawks don’t follow the NFL orthodoxy the assumption is that they know what they are doing and that everything will turn out fine.

However, the Redskins do not enjoy a sterling reputation for being smart operators. Their last major quarterback decision, trading three first-round picks and a second for Robert Griffin III, quickly turned into a disaster. They will get no benefit of the doubt no matter how they proceed here.

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.