Washington NFL Rumors & News

Latest On DeSean Jackson

For months now, there has been speculation about DeSean Jackson returning to the Eagles via free agency this offseason. The wide receiver hasn’t done much to stop that talk with his latest comments to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (audio link). "<strong

It definitely is a great story or ending, I guess you could say,” Jackson said (via PFT). “Starting your career somewhere then going to a division rival team [and] having the possibility of maybe going back. You just kind of think about all of that when you start somewhere maybe you could finish it. There is just a lot of speculation of a lot of thoughts. It all sounds good, but you really never know until the final decision is made. I’m just a firm believer that if you work hard, you put in the work, continuously go out there and show everybody what you’re capable of [then] the sky’s the limit.”

Jackson is reportedly eyeing a return to the Eagles, though he is also on the record as saying that he wants to stay with the Redskins. Jackson, 30, could be on the verge of losing his trademark speed, but he was still productive last year as he hauled in 56 catches for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns. There will be a healthy market waiting for Jackson in March and the Eagles won’t be the only team pursuing him. That group of suitors could include the Buccaneers. Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears the Bucs could be a possible destination for DJax and his relationship with quarterback Jameis Winston could help to facilitate a deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kirk Cousins Won’t Sign Extension Before Franchise Deadline

Pending free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins isn’t planning to ink an extension with the Redskins before the franchise tag deadline on March 1, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.Kirk Cousins (vertical)

[RELATED: 2017 Franchise Tag Candidates]

Because Cousins signed the franchise tender last season, he’d be due a 120% raise if tagged again this offseason, meaning he’d be entitled to a one-year, fully guaranteed salary of $23.94MM. As such, Cousins’ financial calculation is a simple one: not only would accepting the tag force Washington to work off that nearly $24MM total in negotiations, but Cousins can point to exact numbers in terms of guaranteed money on a long-term deal.

As Florio writes, a tag in 2017 plus another 120% raise in 2018 would equal more than $52MM in guarantees over the next two seasons, and Cousins would be unlikely to accept any figure that comes in south of that total on an extension. Plus, Cousins will probably sign the franchise tender immediately (as he did in 2016), thus backing the Redskins into a position where Cousins has nothing to lose.

Washington reportedly wants to reach a long-term deal with Cousins, but as of earlier this month, the two parties hadn’t made much progress towards an extension. At one point, Redskins management may have considered letting Cousins gauge his value on the open market, but that won’t happen now that Cousins backers Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay are now in head coaching positions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pierre Garcon Set To Test Free Agency

Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon posted a message Monday on Instagram with the caption “#YallHiring?,” leading both Jason Cole of Bleacher Report and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com to infer that he’ll test free agency next month (Twitter links). There are already several potential suitors for Garcon, who could get $9MM-plus per year on his next contract. The 30-year-old is fresh off his second 1,000-yard season and hasn’t amassed fewer than 68 catches in a campaign since a 10-game, 44-reception showing in 2012.

DeSean Jackson Generating Strong Interest

We recently heard that Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason, could command an annual salary of at least $10MM on his next contract, despite the fact that he is a 30-year-old receiver whose game is predicated on speed. Today, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk lends more support to those rumblings, reporting that Jackson will be generating strong interest as free agency approaches. Of course, Jackson has expressed interest in re-signing with Washington and in returning to Philadelphia, but he would likely have to take a lesser salary to stay with the Redskins and he seems to be a little resentful about the way things ended with the Eagles. But as Florio observes, it seems as if Jackson’s choice will not be limited to two clubs.

Effects Of Potential Kirk Cousins Extension

  • The Redskins have to consider other personnel factors as they discuss an extension with quarterback Kirk Cousins, opines John Keim of ESPN.com in a pair of articles. For one, Washington has other players it will need to lock up in the coming years — offensive linemen Morgan Moses and Spencer Long will need new deals in 2018, while wide receiver Jamison Crowder and linebacker Preston Smith could be extended the following year. Additionally, the Redskins will need to ensure they keep enough cap space available to place weapons around Cousins, with solid drafts the key to keeping costs down.

Redskins Considered Letting Kirk Cousins Test Free Agency

Earlier this offseason, the Redskins were “of a mind” to let quarterback Kirk Cousins hit free agency in order to let the open market determine his financial value, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Washington’s view on Cousins has seemingly changed now that Cousins backers Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay are now in head coaching positions and could theoretically take a run at the Redskins quarterback, per Breer.Kirk Cousins (Vertical)

[RELATED: 2017 Franchise Tag Candidates]

Progress between Washington and Cousins has been slow in recent weeks, and within the Redskins’ front office there is some “internal resistance” to the concept of using the franchise tag on Cousins for the second consecutive season. Per Breer, some Washington executives believe that giving Cousins nearly $24MM for the 2017 campaign would hinder negotiations with the sixth-year pro, as Cousins would be unlikely to accept a lower annual salary after setting $24MM as a baseline.

In sum, the Redskins seem incredibly unlikely to allow Cousins to reach free agency, and will probably use the franchise tender if now long-term deal is reached. Washington’s concern over San Francisco poaching Cousins if he heads to the market unfettered aren’t unfounded, as Cousins is reportedly Plan A for the 49ers at quarterback. A Los Angeles pursuit makes less sense, as the Rams just drafted Jared Goff first overall in last year’s draft.

In his two years as a starter, Cousins has helped the Redskins to plus-.500 seasons – including a 9-7, NFC East-winning showing in 2015 – while flourishing statistically. Cousins is coming off a year in which he completed 67 percent of passes, nearly reached the 5,000-yard mark (4,917), and tossed 25 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates

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Starting today, NFL teams will be able to place franchise and transition tags on potential free agents for the first time. While the window for franchise tags is open, most clubs won’t actually tag any players right away.

As our list of important dates for the 2017 offseason shows, the deadline for teams to assign those tags doesn’t come until Wednesday, March 1st. Usually, when it comes to NFL contract discussions, deadlines spur action, so teams will wait until that deadline approaches to officially use franchise tags, once it becomes clear that they won’t be able to strike a longer-term deal yet with their respective free-agents-to-be.

Even though the action might not heat up for a couple more weeks, it’s worth taking a closer look at what to expect during 2017’s franchise tag period. The NFL hasn’t officially announced the salary cap figure for 2017, but former agent Joel Corry of CBSSports.com recently projected the 2017 franchise tag salaries based on a presumed $168MM cap. Here are the expected non-exclusive franchise tag amounts:

  • Quarterback: $21.395MM
  • Running back: $12.377MM
  • Wide receiver: $15.826MM
  • Tight end: $9.894MM
  • Offensive line: $14.444MM
  • Defensive end: $16.955MM
  • Defensive tackle: $13.468MM
  • Linebacker: $14.754MM
  • Cornerback: $14.297MM
  • Safety: $10.961MM
  • Punter/kicker: $4.863MM

(For a refresher on the characteristics of the exclusive and non-exclusive franchise tags, as well as the transition tag, be sure to check out PFR’s glossary entry on the subject.)

Here’s our look at the most likely candidates to be tagged, along with several more outside possibilities:

Virtual Locks:

Chandler Jones, DE, Cardinals: Maybe Jones should headline a category titled “Super Duper Virtual Locks.” In January, coach Bruce "<strongArians said that the Cards would apply the franchise tag to Jones if they were unable to immediately lock him up to a long-term deal. Then, just this week, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill offered additional confirmation of that plan. The $16.955MM tag will be applied to Jones in the next couple of weeks and the two sides will then have until the summer to work out a long-term deal. The odds of a longer pact coming together seem pretty good, considering the Cardinals knew what they were getting themselves into when they traded for Jones last year.

Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: Panthers head coach Ron Rivera admits that Short will “probably” be tagged and, unlike ex-teammate Josh Norman, Short doesn’t have a problem with it. The 28-year-old was the third-best defensive tackle in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, and the Panthers will gladly pay him ~$13.5MM on a one-year deal. A multi-year agreement could require an average annual value of $17MM, so our early guess is that Short will wind up actually playing on the tender.


Le’Veon Bell
, RB, Steelers: We’ve known for a while now that the Steelers will use the franchise tag on Bell. For all of his off-the-field headaches, Bell still stands as one of the league’s most dynamic running backs and a one-year, $12.3MM deal would suit Pittsburgh just fine. Sometime after the tag is in place, we’re expecting the two sides to agree on a long-term deal. As I wrote in our most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings, Bell will top LeSean McCoy‘s ~$8MM AAV and Doug Martin‘s $15MM in guarantees on a new multiyear pact. Of course, other factors such as cash flow will be pivotal in talks, particularly given the limited shelf life of running backs.
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No Progress Between Redskins, Kirk Cousins

The beginning of free agency on March 9 is just over three weeks away, but the Redskins and the most valuable unsigned player in the NFL, quarterback Kirk Cousins, still haven’t made progress toward a long-term agreement, reports Mike Jones of the Washington Post. Talks between the two sides are poised to “intensify” over the next couple weeks, according to Jones.

Kirk Cousins (vertical)

Redskins president Bruce Allen said last month that the club’s goal is to lock up Cousins for the long haul, but doing so might cost in the neighborhood of $90MM and $110MM – including $50MM to $60MM in guarantees – on a four- to five-year contract, posits Jones. If that’s too big a commitment for Washington, whose brass has differing opinions on Cousins, it could place the franchise tag on the 28-year-old as early as Wednesday and no later than March 1.

The Redskins tagged Cousins at $19.95MM last season, and doing so again this winter would cost them $23.94MM. The likelihood is that the Redskins would use the non-exclusive tag on Cousins, adds Jones, which would enable the five-year veteran to negotiate with other teams. Should someone sign Cousins to an offer sheet, that club would have to send two first-round picks to the Redskins as compensation. That would perhaps be an unpalatable price to pay for bottom-feeding teams like the 49ers and Browns, both of whom have been connected to Cousins this offseason.

For the Redskins, losing the highly productive Cousins would lead to a significant short-term downgrade under center, as Jones writes that the team would seriously consider turning to backup Colt McCoy as a stopgap as it grooms an early round signal-caller behind him. Cousins’ departure could also deter free agents from signing with the Redskins this offseason, per ESPN.com’s John Keim, who notes that “multiple agents” around the league want their clients to join the team if the QB stays in the fold.

It’s easy to see why Cousins is regarded highly by his colleagues: In his two years as a starter, he has helped the Redskins to plus-.500 seasons – including a 9-7, NFC East-winning showing in 2015 – while flourishing statistically. Cousins is coming off a year in which he completed 67 percent of passes, nearly reached the 5,000-yard mark (4,917), and tossed 25 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Add Cannon Matthews To Staff

  • The Redskins have hired Cannon Matthews as a defensive quality control coach, relays JP Finlay of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Matthews served as the assistant defensive backs coach last year with the Browns, who parted with him in January.

Lorenzo Alexander To Get $10MM Per Year?

On the heels of a shockingly effective season in which he earned a Pro Bowl nod and second-team All-Pro honors, journeyman linebacker Lorenzo Alexander is preparing to land a significant raise in free agency, as CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora writes in a piece that’s worth a full read. Alexander could end up with a short-term contract worth $5MM to $10MM per year, his agent, Peter Schaffer, told La Canfora.

Lorenzo Alexander

The success Alexander had in 2016 with the Bills was completely unexpected, as evidenced by the fact that the longtime special teamer had to settle for a minimum salary benefit deal last April. Alexander went on to find a home in now-former Bills head coach Rex Ryan‘s defense, though, as he notched 76 tackles, 12.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception in his age-33 season. Remarkably, Alexander entered 2016 having combined for nine sacks, four forced fumbles and no picks over the first nine years of his career, which he divided among the Redskins, Cardinals and Raiders.

Since his breakout season in Buffalo concluded, Alexander has stated that the Bills want him back, but he’s noncommittal about where he’ll play in 2017. Alexander, who’s listed at 245 pounds, would like to stay at his 2016 playing weight (235), he told La Canfora, who names a return to the Redskins, a reunion with ex-Washington defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in Cleveland, or a deal with the 49ers as possibilities. Staying close to his native Oakland would be a boon for Alexander, per La Canfora, which could tip the scales in the 49ers’ favor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.