Five take­aways from own­ers’ meet­ings

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY NORA PRINCIOTTI

PHOENIX | The NFL own­ers meet­ings are for more than re­lo­ca­tions and rules, be­lieve it or not. The meet­ings are a good chance for the league’s lead­ers to get to­gether and, though there’s plenty of PR-speak dished around, there’s plenty to be learned about each team’s plans by keep­ing both ears open and, some­times, know­ing how to read the tea leaves a lit­tle bit.

On that note, here are five Redskins-cen­tric ob­ser­va­tions from last week’s meet­ings in Ari­zona:

Fran­chis­ing Kirk Cousins a third time has en­tered the dis­cus­sion.

Through­out Cousins’ en­tire con­tract saga, the idea of fran­chis­ing the quar­ter­back a third time, to the tune of $34 mil­lion, has been dis­missed as in­con­ceiv­able. It is still rel­a­tively in­con­ceiv­able, given that the Redskins would have to be will­ing to sink nearly 20 per­cent of their salary cap into one player in or­der to pay Cousins that salary. The dif­fer­ence is that it is no longer be­ing dis­missed as such.

“Ob­vi­ously we have an op­tion for next year on him,” team pres­i­dent Bruce Allen said.

Allen said so while ex­plain­ing that the team still wants to get a long-term deal done with Cousins, but he’s not a man to waste words. Maybe he’s bring­ing up the third year op­tion as a threat — try­ing to soften Cousins’ ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion by re­mind­ing him that the Redskins can still own him for mul­ti­ple years to come. Maybe it’s a peace of­fer­ing — a mes­sage to Cousins that the team wouldn’t be to­tally closed off to up­ping its of­fer un­der some cir­cum­stances. What­ever it is, it’s not the moot point it used to be.

There’s a chance the team doesn’t hire a new GM.

While the Redskins will ad­dress the va­cancy cre­ated when Scot McCloughan was fired in early March after the draft, they won’t nec­es­sar­ily do it by hir­ing one per­son to re­place him.

“We’ll as­sess where we’re at as a team and what­ever type of per­son­nel needs we have,” Allen said.

Allen also said that he be­lieves the Redskins front of­fice cur­rently em­ploys sev­eral tal­ents who “in a few years are go­ing to be a gen­eral man­ager, a di­rec­tor of player per­son­nel.”

With Allen main­tain­ing a ma­jor say, peo­ple he views as fu­ture-GMs in-house, plus a coach who likes be­ing in­volved in per­son­nel, there are a num­ber of ways McCloughan’s du­ties could be spread around that wouldn’t re­quire a sin­gle, big hire.

The Redskins will take the best play­ers avail­able to them in the draft. Ba­si­cally.

Dur­ing his Tues­day af­ter­noon me­dia ses­sion, Redskins coach Jay Gru­den said he doesn’t feel like the team has any glar­ing po­si­tional needs that will sig­nif­i­cantly al­ter its draft board.

“No,” Gru­den said. “I think that’s a good thing. I don’t think we have to panic and say oh my gosh no mat­ter what we have to take a de­fen­sive tackle or a de­fen­sive line­man or what­ever it is.”

It’s very rare that play­ers grade out iden­ti­cally, and it would take a sit­u­a­tion like that for po­si­tional needs to dic­tate Washington’s choices.

“I think we’re in a pretty good place in a lot of spots,” Gru­den said. “I think they’re may be one or two spots we might lean to­wards if every­thing’s equal and we like some­one at cer­tain po­si­tions. We might lean to­wards here or there, but I feel good about all the po­si­tions that we have right now, it’s just a mat­ter of pick­ing the right peo­ple.”

The Redskins got their pick in Greg Manusky (and Jim Tom­sula).

The Redskins con­ducted their de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor search be­fore Gru­den’s con­tract was ex­tended, so the prospec­tive job they were of­fer­ing came with some un­cer­tainty. Apparently, that wasn’t an is­sue for the can­di­dates.

“The guys that I in­ter­viewed all wanted the job. It’s not like any­body turned it down,” Gru­den said. “I think they’re all very ex­pe­ri­enced guys, all had great qual­i­fi­ca­tions and all did great job in the in­ter­view. It just came down to the [Greg] Manusky/ [Jim] Tom­sula combo was very ap­peal­ing to me.”

Manusky and Tom­sula worked to­gether on the 49ers staff from 2007-10 with the same ti­tles they have now, Manusky as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and Tom­sula coach­ing the de­fen­sive line.

The Redskins also in­ter­viewed Mike Pet­tine and Gus Bradley but Manusky, with the ad­di­tion of Tom­sula, was the top choice.

The spe­cial­ists will see some com­pe­ti­tion.

Kicker Dustin Hop­kins and punter Tress Way will have to earn their jobs back. Gru­den said that, after the draft, the Redskins will prob­a­bly bring in a punter or a kicker “here and there.”

“I love Tress [Way] and [Dustin] Hop­kins, they’ve had good years,” Gru­den said. “I think both of them would tell you that it wasn’t their best year, not what they ex­pected. But they’re both young tal­ented guys that I think will con­tinue to get bet­ter also the more con­fi­dence and work they get.”

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