Five games remain on the schedule, and the Redskins are working to remain in the playoff picture. A win this Sunday in Arizona will definitely help the cause. The Redskins would remain in possession of the sixth seed.

It’s definitely going to be an interesting month, and interesting offseason after that.

In today’s mailbag, we take a look at Kirk Cousins’s earning potential, the futures of some of his teammates, and also evaluate some of the performances on this team thus far.

Thanks, as always, for taking part in the Mailbag. Keep the questions coming! Email me at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line, “Mailbag question,” and we’ll do it all over again next Tuesday.

If it isn’t imaginable anymore that the Redskins will let Kirk Cousins leave the organization, is there a chance he might settle for a little less than the max possible amount? I think he is a good quarterback, but giving Scot a chance to improve the roster further also through free agency would give Cousins a better chance to bring back the glory times to D.C. I’d guess $20 million a year should also be enough to have a warm dinner for the rest of his life.

– Aurel Griesshammer

I don’t see Cousins and his agent giving the Redskins a break. It’s his agent’s job to get the quarterback the payday that he deserves, and the Redskins’ job to figure out how to make that work while also giving themselves flexibility to meet other needs. That’s not selfish. That’s just how it works. There are ways to give Cousins the handsome contract that his camp believe he deserves, and structure it in a way that has a more cap-friendly salary in the first year or two. But, Cousins & Co. are not going to give the Redskins a hometown discount. Cousins will have options on the open market, I expect. At this point, taking into account the figures that the Cousins camp viewed as lowball offers last offseason, and given the quarterback’s perception that team officials might not completely believe in him yet, once Cousins completes this season – and if he does so on this same hot streak – he’s going to want top dollar.

Cousins is the good soldier, and he says and does the right thing. But he’s definitely playing with a chip on his shoulder, and that chip will remain there in the offseason until he gets paid. This offseason, there’s no pressure on Cousins. If he doesn’t sign a long-term deal from the Redskins, he gets either the $24 million salary from a second franchise tag, or he’ll get to test his value elsewhere. If Brock Osweiler – with his limited experience – got a four-year deal worth an average salary of $18 million and with a $12 million signing bonus and $37 million in guaranteed money, then you can bet that Cousins’s agent will want much more for a guy who will have just posted the best two statistical seasons in the history of the franchise, and possibly have led the team to its first back-to-back playoff appearances since 1991 and ’92. Last offseason, $17 million wasn’t going to get it done because of the $20 million franchise tag salary. This year, $20 million definitely isn’t going to get it done. I’d expect $24 million to be the starting point.

The members of the Bruce Allen draft class of 2014 (Trent Murphy, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long and Bashaud Breeland) are eligible for extensions this offseason. Please rate this group on how they have played and rate the chance/importance of doing the extension in 2017. Also, there have been recent sports-talk radio conversations about extending Jay Gruden with two years left on his contract. Is Gruden tied to Kirk Cousins? Does Joe Barry as coordinator impact a possible decision on whether to extend or not to extend?

– Ryan Chase


Morgan Moses, in the background, is helping quarterback Kirk Cousins excel and could be due an extension. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Over the course of the past three years, cornerback Bashaud Breeland has played the best of those three. He had a rough start to this season, but for the most part, has been solid since. Morgan Moses has established himself as a quality right tackle. Trent Murphy has contributed as a rotational pass-rusher and has seven sacks on the season. And Spencer Long is doing a good job, playing center for the first time in his career. However, I’m not so sure any of them need extensions prior to the final seasons of their rookie contracts. Possibly Moses. Keeping that bookend of Williams and Moses in place probably is a higher priority. So, he’s a good candidate for an extension. The rest can probably wait. If Chris Baker didn’t get an extension coming off of a six-sack season, then I can’t see the others. Long still has more to prove. Murphy is a part-time player. Breeland is solid, but can improve some more and further prove himself.

As far as Gruden goes, I don’t see them extending him with two years left on his contract. There’s no need, really. If all goes well, then take care of him heading into the final year of his contract. The decision to extend Gruden wouldn’t seem to relate to Joe Barry. Team officials could evaluate Barry’s situation this offseason and decide if his unit has underperformed because of inadequate coaching, or because of inadequate talent. But I don’t think Gruden’s future hinges on that assessment of Barry, and loyalty to the defensive coordinator. Not at this time, anyway.

Some pundits are highly critical of Kendall Fuller’s play, but I think he’s played much better than Dashaun Phillips, generally kept up with his assignments and deserving of the starter spot.  What do you think of his play?

– Tim Foisie, Westport, Conn.

I think Fuller has talent, but he remains wildly inconsistent. He got off to a promising start as he overtook Phillips for the nickelback duties. But since the game in Detroit, where he gave up a big catch to Andre Roberts on the Lions’ game-winning drive, Fuller has struggled. He’s been a step late at times. He has gotten lost in coverage other times.


Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant (88), left, hauls in a fourth-quarter pass at the 2-yard line against Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller last Thursday. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Fuller certainly has talent. He played well in the preseason. But it’s tough going from college – and not playing much that final year at Virginia Tech because of knee surgery – to the NFL, and playing the most challenging defensive back position in one year.

Redskins coaches are trying to both develop Fuller and win at the same time, and sometimes the two don’t jive. It’s definitely been trial by fire for Fuller, particularly in the past three weeks as he has faced Stephon Diggs, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley. But it seems that coaches remain patient with Fuller, knowing that it takes time, and that he’s far from a finished product.

How would you grade both Washington’s defensive players and defensive coaching staff thus far and why? At times, our defense is like going through a turnstile at a subway station and at other times it’s like a brick wall. I just wonder if you attribute the inconsistency more with the lack of play or players or if our coaching staff is still figuring out how to read other teams.

– Kevin Gschwend

I don’t know about a grade right now. But the players and coaches will all admit that they haven’t been good enough. You’re right, that this unit at times has some great stands, and even some game-defining contributions. Then other times, the defense offers no resistance at all.

The struggles can’t be traced to one thing. The Redskins have personnel deficiencies in some key areas, and they’ve had some questionable coaching moves. At times, players get blasted off the line, don’t fly to the ball, are late getting to spots for tackles or pass coverages. Then, other times, Joe Barry has gone too conservative, or hasn’t made adjustments that seemingly would have produced better results. In some regards, the coordinator has made less-aggressive moves because he’s trying to mask some deficiencies. So, it’s hard to totally fault him. But as a whole, this unit needs a lot of work in the offseason. Safety, defensive line and linebacker all need some additions.

Has DeSean Jackson done enough in the last two weeks to prove he needs to be re-signed this offseason, or do we need to see more production out of him in the last five weeks? Also, with the way Ty Nsekhe is playing right now, is there a scenario in which you see Trent Williams returning as a left guard after his suspension?

– Chris Duble

Jackson has had some bright spots – a couple – this season, but he hasn’t done anything to make himself indispensable. I don’t get the sense that the decision-makers see him as reliable or versatile enough to give him big money this offseason. They’ll probably let him walk. They likely will look to the draft to find an elite speed threat to help stretch the field.

As far as Nsekhe and Williams … No. Ty Nsekhe is not in any way a better left tackle than Trent Williams. After this game, Williams will return to left tackle, and Nsekhe will return to the backup role. In a pinch, Williams is fine at guard. But you want your best left tackle playing left tackle.

Email a Redskins question to mike.jones@washpost.com, with the subject “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered next Tuesday.

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