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Need to Know: Enemy Intel—Can the Cowboys afford to draft Romo’s replacement at No. 4?

Feb 28, 2016, 7:26 AM EDT

Kerrigan-Romo

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 28, 10 days before the start of NFL free agency.

Enemy Intel: A spin around the NFC East and more

On Sundays we’re going to take a look around at what is going on the NFC East including an angle on the Redskins plus what’s up with another team that is on Washington’s 2016 schedule. We’ll try it for a while; if it’s fun and you readers find it interesting we’ll keep doing it.

The East

The Eagles made a smart move in re-signing S Malcolm Jenkins—Philadelphia gave Jenkins a four-year extension worth $35 million last week. Jenkins, signed by the Eagles as a free agent in 2014, is coming off of a Pro Bowl selection in 2015. He has five interceptions in his two years in Philly, returning two of them for touchdowns. The drawback to the extension is the wear and tear on Jenkins; he turns 29 before the season is out and he has seven seasons at a very physical position under his belt.

Cowboys’ Jason Garrett doesn’t have much to say about DE Greg Hardy—It’s apparent that the Cowboys coach is counting down the days until March 9, when the names of his team and Hardy are no longer associated with each other. At the NFL Combine, Garrett was asked about the status of Hardy, who had six sacks in 12 games but just 1.5 in the Cowboys’ last six games and created a lot of distractions along the way. The coach’s response was a frosty, “Greg Hardy’s a free agent.” With Hardy gone, at least if Garrett has anything to say about it, and Randy Gregory suspended for the first four games after he failed four (four!) drug tests in 2015, the Cowboys may have to look for a pass rusher with their top draft pick, No. 4 overall, rather than trying to get Tony Romo’s successor.

Giants’ TE Larry Donnell may have career-ending neck injury—When you complain about an NFL player trying to get as much money in a contract as he possibly can, keep this story in mind. Donnell missed the last half of the season with a neck injury and it may end his career at the age of 27. There is no definitive word but Donnell has not yet been cleared for football activities. Giants GM Jerry Reese said that “hopefully” Donnell will be able to play again but only time will tell. The 6-6 tight end has eight touchdown catches in his last 24 games.

Redskins want Matt Jones to step up—When Scot McCloughan and the rest of the organization drew up their plans last year there was hope that at this time they would have full confidence that Jones could move right in to the starting running back job. Four lost fumbles and a couple of injuries later the hope is still there but the full confidence is missing. Both McCloughan and Jay Gruden said that if Jones took care of ball security and health he’d be fine. But even if he fixes those problems he’ll need to improve on his average of 3.4 yards per carry.

Around the NFL

Ravens and QB Joe Flacco making progress in contract talks—Flacco has a 2016 salary cap hit of $28.55 million and it’s causing a sticky situation for Baltimore’s ability to re-sign its own players and shop to improve the team in 2016. The Ravens and Flacco’s agent are in negotiations to reduce that number but it’s not easy. A simple restructure that would reduce his cap hit this year and increase it in future years is dicey because his cap hit is already $31.15 million next year. An extension is the most likely solution, a deal that will have the 31-year-old Flacco under contract well past his 35th birthday. No doubt the Redskins have an eye on this situation; they want to structure a new deal for Kirk Cousins in a way that avoids massive cap hits in the out years.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 49 days ago. It will be about 196 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 10; Redskins offseason workouts start 50; 2016 NFL draft 60

In case you missed it

  1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 28, 2016 at 7:40 AM

    The Browns have no QB, so they need to draft Wentz or Goff (probably Wentz, at this point).

    I don’t think the 2nd choice between the two is a great prospect for a team with a top 5 pick and no absolute need for a QB now. I’m guessing the Cowboys go defense at number 4.
    ~

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Feb 28, 2016 at 8:53 AM

      Wentz looks to me to be the only sure bet QB to draft in 2016. I knew little about this guy until recently and watching the ball come out of his hands is simply amazing.

    • bangkokben - Feb 28, 2016 at 10:42 AM

      I don’t see the Cowboys drafting a QB in the first. They seem to think they’ll find the next Tony Romo like the current Tony Romo. Very few teams can draft a QB in the top five and hold on to him for two years. Even at the rookie wage scale, that is a lot of money to pay at the position – especially when you’re already got more than $20M. They’d pay more than $25M this year and $31M next year. Although, next year, they could cut Romo and save $5M toward the cap.

  2. Mr.moneylover - Feb 28, 2016 at 9:02 AM

    Redskins offer kirk cousins 12.5 mill per year but kirk cousins agent wants 19 mill per year…if thats the case let kirk cousins test free agency to see how much he’s worth but redskins offer the right amount base on the kinda season he had…scot m. Said when it comes to contracts you get a certain amount by seasons,playoff wins,and Superbowls….JP finley said it best “redskin fans don’t take it personal its a business” …I think scot m. Is willing to lose kirk cousins to keep pieces and add pieces to make this team better…kirk cousins can’t take a average or bad team to the playoffs like tom Brady…tom Brady had the worst O-line last season and made the playoffs the year before that redskins had the worst O-line and kirk cousins ended up getting benched

    • 214hof - Feb 28, 2016 at 10:15 AM

      It’s called “low ball” for a reason. If a guy wants $5000 for a vehicle do you walk up to him and hand him 5000 grand? No you kick the tires and try to get it as cheap as possible. The guy wants to sell, you want to buy, just need to find a number you’re both comfortable with. There are some pretty ridiculous numbers out there for starting QBs that you can argue Kirk is better then right now, and the plus is that the coaches believe he still has room to grow in this offense.

      • 214hof - Feb 28, 2016 at 10:28 AM

        Kaepernick 15+ million
        Jay Cutler 17 million
        Alex Smith 17+ million
        Matt Stafford 22+ million

        Are any of these guys putting the team on their backs and carrying them thru the playoffs?

        17-18 million a year would put Kirk top 15 paid QB in the league but not top 10. It’s nonsense to look at the names because some guys took deals recently, and some guys are near the end. You have to pay a QB, or you will be looking for one. Does anybody really wanna see a Grossman/Beck season again?

    • bangkokben - Feb 28, 2016 at 10:26 AM

      “tom Brady had the worst O-line last season and made the playoffs the year before that redskins had the worst O-line and kirk cousins ended up getting benched”

      Try to have some perspective. 2014, Cousins had a handful of starts under his belt. 2015, Tom Brady is already a first ballot HOFer with 4 Super Bowl victories. Even if Brady had the worst o-line in his first year as a starter, (which he didn’t but he did have the best defense), I don’t see how they’re comparable. So Cousins HAS TO BE at Tom Brady’s level right now or our team is just going to start over at the position? Yeah, right.

      Dude, you are so delusional! Now that you have resigned yourself that Griffin is not going to be on the team you hold out hope that Cousins won’t be on the team either.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 28, 2016 at 10:28 AM

      Nope. If the Redskins let Cousins walk, they’re back to square one. And you might as well kiss Gruden goodbye, too.

      I realize RGIII fans want both these things, but it would set the franchise back years.

      The Browns or Texans or some other QB-needy team would happily bid higher than that for Cousins, rather than settle for pot luck with the QB talent in this draft.
      ~

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Feb 28, 2016 at 12:01 PM

      Redskins O-line was not the worst in 2014 and the pass protection was actually rated in the top half but certainly not top ten. Of course the offense line was still very vulnerable overall in 2014. Also NE O-line was not the worst this season. It was negatively impacted by many injuries. Finally, it’s not fair to compare the limited games Cousins played as a starter in 2014 to a refined veteran HOFer like Tom Brady playing 16 games. Nothing about this comparison justifies the argument to pay Cousins less.

      I think there is little argument that Cousins has more to prove and hurdles yet to overcome. However, if you look at all the options this team has right now then it’s hard to argue overpaying Cousins may be the best the team can go with. Gruden and his offense system is not going away next season so provide a better option than paying Cousins 3 to 5 million more than the team would prefer?

      • bowlregard - Feb 28, 2016 at 6:53 PM

        I don’t always get how Olines are rated. Say what you will about 2014, when I watched QBs were running for their lives. McCoy seemed to handle it best. Sorry he got injured, but they all took a beating. 2015 it was much improved, and Kirk was also much improved getting the ball out quickly. Of course, it helped that Reed was out there healthy.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Feb 29, 2016 at 6:24 PM

          You’re dead on about McCoy. I live in Chicago now and a lot of people (Bear’s fans) have asked me about the QB situation and I gave the nod to McCoy over Cousins in the offseason. Either way I didn’t acknowledge RGIII, no surprise when he got benched, and I’m black NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE! McCoy just seemed to handle the pressure better and make better decisions, as you said. Despite his size! It’ll be interesting to see how Kirk digests a full offseason as well as starting off the season with his 1st string playmakers. Assuming we tag him, which I think is smart money. You figure it’s only a couple mil off of what we would’ve given him in guarantees or per annum for a long term deal so what’s a couple MIL when assessing the future of your franchise when you’ve already BOTCHED the first one? I do hope we can retain McCoy though. The guy is a quality veteran backup.

  3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 28, 2016 at 12:53 PM

    Sure it’s the underwear Olympics, but…Emmanuel Ogbah is fast!

    4.62 forty yard dash with a 1.59 ten yard split.
    ~

  4. hail74 - Feb 28, 2016 at 3:26 PM

    Rich, how are coaches picked for the scouting combine. Redskins TE coach Wes Phillips was the one working with the TEs.

  5. wildbill1952 - Feb 28, 2016 at 5:52 PM

    Redskins center is rated at number 35, Redskins left guard is rated at number 22, per Bleacher Report. For center, that basically means there were backups that were better than our center and for left guard, it means he was in the lower echelon of the left guards. So don’t say Kirk did well just because the OL is good. The bookends improved when Moses showed up, and Scherff was all-Rookie. But the reason the running game is so bad is because the center and left guard are so bad. Cousins performed last year with a fair offensive line and no running game and DeSean absent for the first half of the season, and still set Redskin records. I know many RG III fans wish he had worked out, but he didn’t. No need to find root cause. It just didn’t. You now have a QB the team appears to have confidence in, and the coaches definitely have confidence in. RG III will get his chance elsewhere. Don’t start over looking for another QB in the draft or by looking for an FA his own team won’t pay to keep. It’s time to pay the man (Kirk), build the offense around him, and forget the RG III dreams.

    • brucefan1 - Feb 28, 2016 at 9:43 PM

      “Redskins center is rated at number 35, Redskins left guard is rated at number 22, per Bleacher Report”

      “Per BLEACHER REPORT” ?? Really? Wow! Its gotta be true then! LOL

      You do know that the center was long-time underachiever Josh LeRibeus and the guard was second-year backup Spencer Long, right Bill? Don’t think nobody expected much from either of them — except maybe to keep their heads above water — which they usually JUST managed to do … barely. (Kinda surprised the highly respected, venerable. bible-like Bleacher Report even had em ranked THAT high.)

      “But the reason the running game is so bad is because the center and left guard are so bad. Cousins performed last year with a fair offensive line”

      Wait. Weren’t the weak center and left guard the same for both the running AND the passing plays … or did the Skins send two “fair” replacements for them whenever they ran a pass play??

      I’m sooo confused!;^}

  6. lezziemcdykerson - Feb 29, 2016 at 6:36 PM

    Do we sound like an organization ready to move on from Alf? Granted I bet they don’t want to pay him in anything but GUM after last season but it doesn’t entirely sound like they’re behind Matt either. Alf has looked much smaller in recent seasons. Probably affecting his YAContact as he can’t absorb hits as easily or redsitribute when he’s off balance. Seems like once you hit him he’s done..Maybe he slimmed down to be more elusive but what got him here was being able to run through people, not run away from them. Bulk back up and see some returns on your investment. If you need somewhere to eat in DMV let me know!

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