Red­skins’ Gru­den hope­ful of new deal with Cousins.

Re­port: Talks with QB more pos­i­tive

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY NORA PRINCIOTTI

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.


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