East Notes: Cousins, Carroll, Soliai

It is difficult to imagine Kirk Cousins playing anywhere besides Washington next season, either under the franchise tag or under a lucrative, long-term deal. The most recent report regarding contract negotiations between the two parties suggested that the prospect of Cousins and Washington striking a multi-year deal was “not good,” although the application of the franchise tag always seems to invigorate stalled contract talks.

But even if Cousins ultimately plays out the 2016 season under the tag, it may not handicap Washington that much in the short-term. As John Keim of ESPN.com observes, Washington’s 2016 cap number already includes Robert Griffin III‘s $16.15MM option, and the team is almost certainly going to cut Griffin in the near future. As such, putting the franchise tag on Cousins really only adds an extra $4MM or so to the team’s cap commitment, as the tag value for quarterbacks is projected to be around $20MM. Certainly Washington would rather have an extra $4MM to spend, particularly since it does not have a ton of cap room to begin with–plus, signing Cousins to a long-term deal might put his first-year cap hit under $10MM, thus creating even more space–but for 2016, at least, the tag might not be as crippling as it otherwise could be.

Now let’s take a look at some more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • Mark Eckel of LehighValleyLive.com takes a look at how the Eagles will address their secondary this offseason, a conversation that necessarily begins with cornerback Nolan Carroll, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Carroll is a solid player, but the price to keep him should not be prohibitive, especially since he ended the season on IR after breaking his ankle in the team’s Thanksgiving contest against Detroit. If Carroll is retained, Philadelphia could shift Eric Rowe from cornerback to safety, his more natural position, to replace Walter Thurmond, who is likely to depart in free agency.
  • The Falcons will release Paul Soliai on or after March 9, and the 32-year-old defensive tackle would apparently like to return to the Dolphins, according to Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald (via Twitter). Soliai spent the first seven seasons of his career with Miami before signing with Atlanta prior to the 2014 campaign, and although his 2015 performance was not up to his usual standards, he could still be a valuable member of either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.
  • The Jets will make a concerted effort to address the tight end position in free agency and/or the draft, per Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com. The team needs a tight end who can challenge a defense in the middle of the field, and although this year’s free agent class of tight ends is uninspiring–Antonio Gates will likely stay in San Diego, leaving players like Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen at the top of the market–but Arkansas’ Hunter Harvey, widely regarded as the best TE in the draft, should be available when Gang Green makes its first selection in this year’s draft.
  • Patriots RB Dion Lewis, who was a catalyst of the team’s offense prior to tearing his ACL on November 8, is making good progress in his recovery and should be available for the start of the regular season, as Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports.
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