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Why you're seeing more momentum building around Kirk Cousins trade rumors

Why you're seeing more momentum building around Kirk Cousins trade rumors

The rumors aren't new. The first reports came out more than a month ago.  Yet, momentum continues to build around a trade sending Kirk Cousins to the 49ers. 

The NFL's legal tampering period opened Tuesday at noon, and little actual news broke on the unofficial start to 2017 free agency. In a way, something has to fill that void, and that something is Cousins trade rumors. 

Unfortunately for Redskins fans that want to keep their quarterback, the increased talk surrounding Cousins leaving Washington is not something to be easily dismissed. In fact, it's the opposite, and there is mounting evidence why.

In 2016, the 'Skins placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, and the quarterback moved quick to sign the offer. 

In 2017, the 'Skins placed the exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, and more than a week has passed without a signature on the tender. 

The delay in signing the offer creates some natural questions around Cousins' desire to stay in Burgundy and Gold. On top of that, reports showed that the Redskins offered Cousins a long-term deal worth $100 million. Not the peak of the market Cousins can likely earn, but still a legit offer. The Cousins camp turned that down. 

At this point, it seems possible Cousins might want out of D.C. It's also almost a certainty Cousins wants to maximize his value before signing any multi-year deal. 

Additionally, there is the situation at Redskins Park. General manager Scot McCloughan did not travel with the Redskins front office to the NFL Scouting Combine last week. On Tuesday, McCloughan was not with the team in their Ashburn offices. Whatever the reason for McCloughan's absence, it adds uncertainty to the equation. 

That uncertainty, combined with Cousins not signing his $24 million franchise tender yet and a lull in contract talks, breeds speculation.

And then there is San Francisco. Kyle Shanahan knows Cousins can run his offense, and is in a position to go for what he wants with the Niners. 

The Redskins are also in a tight spot with Cousins. If a long-term deal can't be reached, does Washington want to let their quarterback play again on a one-year deal and risk losing him with no compensation next season? To get compensation, the team likely needs to act quick, certainly before the draft. 

Plenty of league sources seem convinced that Cousins is on his way out, either this offseason or a year from now. 

Charley Casserly knows the Redskins well. He worked in the team's front office for more than a decade, earning three Super Bowl rings and serving as GM of the 1991 world champs. He also knows the NFL well. He's worked with the league as an advisor for years, ran the Houston Texans for a time, and is well plugged in.

Casserly released a mock draft on Tuesday, and sure enough, he had the Redskins picking No. 2 overall. Currently, San Francisco has the second pick. That means Casserly sees a trade happening too.

The noise is growing. That doesn't always mean a move will happen, especially this early in the offseason, but it's getting harder and harder to ignore.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Report: 'There isn't a real price that will make Kirk Cousins happy' with Redskins

Following a slew of reports that cast doubt on the Redskins reaching a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins, ESPN's Dianna Russini tweeted Tuesday that the impass is not about money. 

If the report is true, then Washington has run out of good options for retaining Cousins in the long term.

It's possible the team could use a third-straight franchise tag to keep him next season, but the price tag around $34 million would be astronomical for one season.

The transition tag would be worth in the neighborhood of $28 million. 

Russini doesn't elaborate on the reasons behind her report that Cousins wouldn't be happy in Washington regardless of price. But it's important to note that both teams and players have incentive to create leverage in contract negotiations through the media. 

The Redskins have until July 17 to reach a long-term deal with Cousins. 

MORE REDSKINS: Backup center again a question mark for the Redskins

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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Interior offensive line

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Interior offensive line

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Interior offensive line

On the roster: Guards Shawn Lauvao, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio, Tyler Catalina, Kyle Kalis, Isaiah Williams; Centers Spencer Long, Chase Roullier, Ronald Patrick

Locks: Lauvao, Scherff, Kouandjio, Long

As noted here this morning, there seemed to be a pretty good chance that Lauvao would be on his way out. But free agency and the draft went by and no serious challenger for him was acquired. It looks like they will let him play out the last year of his free agent contract and then see what they want to do with him next year when he will be a 30-year-old free agent.

RELATED: 3 Redskins who are up, 3 down

The Redskins might like Kouandjio, going into his third season, to emerge as a viable option as Lauvao’s successor. He was not up to the task in a couple of spot starts last year. But, just like Lauvao, he can take some comfort in the fact that the organization did not expend any major resources on bringing in another guard for competition.

Scherff went to the Pro Bowl in his second year in the league. He will be a fixture at right guard for the next decade or so, provided the Redskins can figure out a way to get a third high-priced offensive lineman under the salary cap (in addition to tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses).

Long did a solid job in his first year as the starting center. He will anchor the line again this year. He is eligible for a contract extension and it will be interesting to see if talks heat up between now and training camp.

On the bubble: Roullier

In an ideal Redskins world, the rookie sixth-round pick would be able to learn center and both guard spots well enough to be a workable fill-in on game days. In the real world, that may not work. During minicamp, offensive line coach Bill Callahan told me that while he had been impressed with how well Roullier had picked things up so far, the real test will come with the pads on in Richmond.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

Long shots: Catalina, Kalais, Williams, Patrick

You never know what will happen during the preseason but it seems that the practice squad is the best hope for any of these guys to be around Ashburn in the fall. If injury or issues with Roullier’s development create a hole in the depth chart in the 53-man roster the organization is likely to go outside to find help off the waiver wire. Two or three on this list are likely to be back for another shot in 2018.  

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver

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.