Redskins’ Gruden hopeful of new deal with Cousins.
Report: Talks with QB more positive
ASHBURN | Sometimes, Redskins news swirls around social media before coach Jay Gruden first hears about it.
Wednesday, following Washington’s final organized team activity session open to the media, Gruden was asked about an ESPN report claiming that the Redskins contract negotiations with quarterback Kirk Cousins have warmed in tone recently, and Gruden said he’d just learned of it.
“I was just alerted to the report,” Gruden said. “I don’t have a reaction. I’m not in the negotiations, unfortunately. No, I mean, I’m going to let everybody handle that. I think [Redskins President] Bruce Allen and [chief contract negotiator] Eric Schaffer will do a fine job and obviously Kirk’s agent will do his work. Hopefully something gets done.”
In the report, ESPN’s Adam Schefter quoted an anonymous source who claimed that talks have “been much more positive in the past several months,” as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has made various overtures to show Cousins that the team badly wants to keep him. Allen and Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, met face-to-face for the first time in the last two years at last month’s owners’ meetings in Chicago, Schefter reported.
This does not mean that a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline is likely, and Schefter made it clear that positivity could also be related to the Redskins’ prospects of re-signing Cousins in 2018, should he play on the franchise tag in 2017. The likelihood is that he does simply because of math.
“You know, I have a lot of respect for Kirk and what he’s done and what he’s accomplished in a short period of time. I’m very happy that he’s our quarterback. He’s proved great things,” Gruden said.
Cousins is set to earn nearly $24 million guaranteed this season, then test the market where he could command a record-setting salary. The Redskins could also tag him again for either $28 million on the transition tag or nearly $34 million with another franchise tag. No matter how you slice it, unless Cousins is worried about injury or reduced performance, he maximizes his income and leverage by waiting a year.
Cousins’ contract situation, at least this time around, has not been defined by ill will. Any lack of momentum has more to do with the fact that the team put itself
in a difficult spot by not reaching a longterm extension last season, and Cousins has few incentives to act now. Cousins himself described the talks as “positive” two weeks ago, and is at Redskins Park going about business as usual.
“I don’t know, man, it’s funny to come out here and see the guy work because he is putting forth his best effort,” cornerback Josh Norman said. “He is making key component throws, tough situations, in between guys and defenders.”
Gruden’s line since Cousins signed his franchise tag in April has been that he knows the 28-year-old will be on the team this year, and he’s not worrying about what’s beyond that. Gruden reiterated as much Wednesday.
“We’ve got him here for another year, I’m going to coach the heck out of him,” Gruden said. “I love coaching him, I think he likes playing here in this system, for this football team and this franchise. We’ll see what happens.”
What happens is more a matter of numbers than good feelings but, deal or no deal, the Redskins’ work environment hasn’t deteriorated as a result of the negotiations.
No training camp partner again this season
Back in March, Gruden was hopeful that the Redskins could find a partner for joint workouts during training camp. Now it is June and, with training camp in Richmond beginning July 27, it seems efforts were unsuccessful.
“I don’t think it’s a possibility now, unfortunately, but we’ll make do,” Gruden said. “We did last year without having one. We’ll do the best we can.”
The Redskins, as Gruden said, went without a training camp partner in 2016. In 2015 they hosted the Houston Texans, who brought the ‘Hard Knocks’ cameras with them to Richmond — and also helped produce a brawl at the end of the shared practices. In 2014, they hosted the Patriots.
The preseason schedule likely made it difficult for the Redskins to find a willing partner. Their deal with Richmond means that another team would have to agree to set up shop in Virginia for a week. Washington plays at Baltimore in the first preseason game and hosts the Packers, who spend training camp at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, in the second.
Jones, Williams, Reed absent from voluntary workouts
From rookie minicamp to organized team activities to veteran minicamp, most of the offseason work where hitting is forbidden is pretty much the same, even if the names change. Next week, when the Redskins are done with OTA’s and move on to veteran minicamp, there’s really only one change of substance.
“Not much [changes], other than Trent [Williams] and Jordan [Reed] will be here,” Gruden said Wednesday.
Next week’s minicamp is mandatory so, presumably, those two players will return after skipping optional workouts over the past three weeks to train on their own, Williams in Oklahoma and Reed in Florida. It was pointed out to Gruden that he did not mention running back Matt Jones, the third player who has been conspicuously absent.
“Oh, Matt Jones too, yeah,” Gruden said. “I didn’t do that on purpose.”
Jones is in a different category from Williams and Reed because he is not expected to rejoin the team due to displeasure with his roster status. Jones lost his starting gig last season and watched Washington draft Samaje Perine in the fourth round. The Redskins would have liked him to fight for his spot, but Jones has stayed away.
Linebacker Martrell Spaight did not participate Wednesday. Gruden said that the same shoulder injury Spaight dealt with last year was holding him out.