Thanks, as always, for taking part, and keep those questions coming.
Email them to me at email@example.com with the subject line of “Mailbag question,” and we’ll do it all over again next Tuesday — after some free agent signings have taken place.
In regards to the legal tampering that opens up this afternoon: How might that affect trade talks between the 49ers and the Redskins with Kirk Cousins? Also, why hasn’t he signed his tender? Is that also something to do with the Niners?
— Rob Fox, Lincolnton, N.C.
I don’t expect the legal tampering window to have any impact on Cousins-related trade talks between the Redskins and 49ers, because I don’t think San Francisco is desperate enough to seriously consider trading for Cousins.
There are two factors here that my colleague, Master Tesfatsion and I managed to uncover last week. Yes, Kirk Cousins and Kyle Shanahan have a good relationship, and Cousins would love to play for him again some day. But, Shanahan and general manager John Lynch understand the importance of hanging on to your draft picks. Shanahan has seen what happens when a team sells the farm for a quarterback. Both men know how many needs the 49ers have and that building through the draft is the best way to go. People familiar with their thinking also say that they’d be hesitant to pay a $20-million-plus-per-year salary while also giving up a bevy of picks.
Shanahan and Lynch both signed six-year contracts. So, they’ve got time to build this thing the right way. They very well could use their picks this year to meet other needs while signing a space-holder quarterback, like a Matt Schaub, and then wait to see if Cousins hits free agency next year and sign him without giving up picks.
Lastly, Cousins hasn’t signed his tender yet because his agent is still reviewing his options. Before, when he had the nonexclusive tag, he still could negotiate with other teams. But now that it’s the exclusive tag, that’s a little more restrictive. And since he has time, his agent is taking that time before having Cousins sign and lock in that guarantee.
With the Bears and Browns interested in Mike Glennon, Jets interested in Tyrod Taylor and 49ers interested in Trevor Siemian, how would a dried-up QB market impact the negotiation/trade leverage between Kirk and the Skins? I think if the team is looking to trade Kirk Cousins it has to be in the next two to three days to maximize a return.
— Ziggy Valbrun
The Redskins insist they want to keep Cousins. But let’s say they change their mind and are willing to entertain offers. There could be teams that want to get their quarterback situations resolved during free agency. But the Redskins probably would have a little bit better leverage if they wait until closer to the draft.
The Redskins have the first part of their backup plan in place, and that’s Colt McCoy (and the other part would be drafting a quarterback to groom behind him), so they aren’t desperate to move Cousins so they can find another quarterback. And, a team that didn’t get their quarterback situation taken care of in free agency would be in a more desperate position just before the draft, so they’d be willing to give up a little more.
Do you think the Redskins want to upgrade the middle linebacker position? The current starters are adequate, but don’t provide game-changing plays.
— Ajay Mathur
I actually don’t think it’s a talent problem with the Redskins’ inside linebackers. Mason Foster had a really strong second half of the season. Will Compton, who is a restricted free agent, is a really smart, instinctual guy and an effective communicator. Sure, he might have some speed deficiencies. But he has enough to get it done.
I think what would help both of those guys is having better defensive linemen in front of them, and better safety support. Better players up front would mean more open lanes for the linebackers to shoot through and make tackles or sacks. It would be good for the Redskins to draft a rangy, speedy, athletic playmaking inside linebacker to groom behind Compton and Foster and eventually turn him loose. But Compton and Foster are definitely capable of getting the job done. It’s the highest importance that the Redskins upgrade their defensive line.
Why haven’t the Redskins given qualifying offers to some of their restricted free agents? It seems dumb to wait till the last second, if they know they will make an offer i.e. Compton, Thompson. Any chance another team tries to poach one of them?
— David Gans
Your guess is as good as mine on this one, chief. Nothing about the Redskins’ moves (or non-moves) have made sense this offseason. The restricted free agent tenders aren’t tricky at all. Players like Will Compton and Chris Thompson have both been told by coaches and/or management that they are valued and that they want to bring them back. So, it’s really confusing as to why they haven’t gotten those restricted free agent tenders yet. I think both would be smart moves, by the way.
If Pierre Garcon requested a trade midseason, why was he so upset the Skins didn’t talk to him before yesterday? Doesn’t that mean he wanted out?
— Brian Lowery
I think that Garcon probably feels disrespected. You play for a team for five years, you’re their most consistent wide receiver during that span, you’re coming off another 1,000-yard season, and they don’t even pick up the phone and talk about bringing you back the whole offseason? Sure, there was a point during the season, where Garcon felt like the forgotten man. But he never stopped working hard, never caused embarrassment.
He did ask his agent to see if the team would consider trading him to a team that would use him more. The team said no, and so Garcon kept coming to work, kept setting a good example and kept trying to help his team win. It wasn’t that Garcon didn’t want to be here. He just wanted to be with a team that would use him. Things improved in the second half of the season, and Garcon’s production increased. Throughout the year, Garcon heard his coach and quarterback praise him and talk about how valuable he is. But then, when the offseason comes, the team did nothing to back that up. So, that’s where the frustration stems from. Mixed feelings are definitely understandable.
There have been a lot of questions and worry regarding the status of Redskins’ GM Scot McCloughan. I’m wondering, just what is the team’s present chain of command? Who is McCloughan’s “second-in-command”? Are there any other prominent scouts/personnel people to take care of assessment and evaluation should Scot not be able to get things done? Finally, just what are the terms of Scot’s contract with the Redskins?
— Emmett Mosley
From everything we can gather, here’s how the chain of command looked/looks with Scot McCloughan on what appears to be some kind of leave of absence. All of the college scouts report to Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell, and the pro scouts still report to Director of Pro Personnel Alex Santos. Those two, along with senior personnel executive Doug Williams are reporting to Bruce Allen. And, somewhere in there, Jay Gruden is involved as well.
This is basically the setup that the Redskins had pre-McCloughan. This was the setup when the Redskins drafted Trent Murphy, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Bashaud Breeland, Ryan Grant, Lache Seastrunk, Ted Bolser and Zach Hocker. That group also oversaw the free agent signings of DeSean Jackson, Tracy Porter, Andre Roberts, Jason Hatcher, Shawn Lauvao. So, that wasn’t a bad year. There were some hits, and some misses. But the same could be said of the last two draft and free agent classes that took place on McCloughan’s watch. And, although McCloughan led the personnel department and reported directly to Allen, it wasn’t like he didn’t accept input from coaches, the scouts and Campbell and Santos.
It’s a team effort, with Allen basically having the final say.