The fortunes of the Redskins in 2018 start with the question of Kirk Cousins’s next contract. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

The Redskins concluded three games in 12 days, and they came out of that stretch all but eliminated from playoff contention. Washington has lost two of its last three games to drop to 5-7 – three games back of the final wild-card spot with four weeks left.

Safe to say, it’s a wrap. Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said he expects the team to remain competitive to close out the final month of the season. The players echoed his message in the locker room on Monday, as they have plenty to play for financially or plenty to prove before the season ends.

For the fans, however, it’s time to turn their attention to next season. If the season ended today, Washington would have the 12thoverall pick in the NFL draft. There’s still plenty of games to be played before the draft order is finalized, and who exactly the Redskins will select when they’re on the clock. They have 20 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents during the offseason, including quarterback Kirk Cousins, linebacker Zach Brown, cornerback Bashaud Breeland and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr.

With fans looking for hope, we’re looking ahead in this mailbag. It’s been a few weeks since the last mailbag, but thanks for tweeting your questions using the #RedskinsWP hashtag.

Here are this week’s submissions:

The offseason hasn’t even started yet, and we’re getting depressing questions. The biggest question is how exactly will Washington handle Cousins’s situation and can the organization stomach paying $34 million for one player? Considering that this question is the most prominent one, it’s going to be another interesting offseason.

The Redskins have botched the situation and are now faced with either making Cousins the highest-paid player in the league next year or letting him walk with just a 2019 compensatory pick in return.

I’m not exactly sure how you can be hopeful given the likely scenarios, unless you’re a member of the #ColtHive and finally get a chance to see Colt McCoy start if Washington and Cousins part ways.

Washington’s strategy with Cousins will have a trickle-down effect on how it manages its salary cap space, currently projected at $47.5 million next year, according to Spotrac. If the Redskins use the franchise tag on Cousins for the third straight year and pay him $34 million, that doesn’t leave much money for valuable players such as Brown and Breeland unless a number of players restructure their contracts. Even then, Washington would have to fill out its roster with a lot of cheap contracts and draft picks.

On the field, it might be best to stick with Cousins. Financially though, it just wouldn’t make sense to fork over that much money for one player.

I think Cousins has had a good year. He’s been effective while maneuvering behind an injured offensive line, including three different centers, and playing without tight end Jordan Reed — his top option — for much of the season. The last two games were an eyesore offensively, but Cousins played well against the Vikings and Saints before that.

I’m not sure if you can name three without mentioning that he’s a quarterback working around his limitations, and that’s really where it starts. I’d like to see him take more shots, which he has lately, trying to utilize Josh Doctson’s playmaking ability. The numbers suggest he’s great at throwing balls 20 yards or more downfield, but we’ve clearly seen some wide open shots that didn’t connect. Cousins could also improve by making plays off-script, which again I feel we’ve seen more of lately.

Depends on what beverage is being consumed. This might be a game where you follow the pregame ritual of Sean Taylor, Clinton Portis and Santana Moss.