NFC East Notes: Cousins, Giants, JPP, Harrison

Washington general manager Scot McCloughan says that quarterback Kirk Cousins will be here “a long time,” as John Keim of writes. Of course, as of today, Cousins is still slated to play under the franchise tag for the 2016 season. For his part, Cousins acknowledged that extension talks will likely heat up as the July 15th deadline approaches, Tarik El-Bashir of tweets.

Washington can’t afford to lose Cousins and they also can’t really afford to franchise tag him for a second time at ~$24MM in 2017. If the team were to do that, more than 25% of their cap space would be dedicated to Cousins and pricey new addition Josh Norman.

While we wait to see how that plays out, here’s a look at the NFC East:

  • The Giants will likely move Jason Pierre-Paul around the defensive line this year, Dan Graziano of writes. JPP, who was re-signed this offseason on a one-year, $10MM+ deal, likely can’t line up as a full-time starter at right defensive end spot due to the state of his right hand. The two-time Pro Bowler could be moved inside to play defensive tackle on passing downs while seeking the bulk of his time at left defensive end. On the opposite bookend, the Giants will trot out free agent acquisition Olivier Vernon.
  • More from Graziano, who writes that run-stuffer Damon Harrison will team with Johnathan Hankins on early downs. While Snacks’ $9.5MM/year salary might seem high for a two-down player, the Giants firmly believe that he will benefit them on third downs by lengthening the distance their opponent has to go with his work on first and second downs. Giants opponents converted 47% of third-down opportunities in 2016, the highest figure in the league, so Big Blue needs Harrison to help set the tone.
  • Jordan Reed’s contract extension lets other Washington players know that they will get paid if they work hard and produce, Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. Reed, a third-round pick in the 2013 draft, inked a five-year, $48.4MM deal that includes $22MM in guarantees. Reed set career highs in games played (14), receptions (87), receiving yards (952), and touchdowns (11) in 2015. “It’s a great message to send to the rest of the guys, man,” coach Jay Gruden said. “You work hard, you produce, good things will happen, and it did for Jordan. He’s a great kid and obviously we have high aspirations for him.”
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