Nobody expected Jay Gruden’s Washington Redskins to do anything last year, we at Read American football had them dead last in our preseason power rankings due to a relatively tough division (at the time) and a lack of talent on the roster.

Kirk Cousins filled in well as the new quarterback, Jordan Reed stayed healthy and the defence looked average which was enough for them to win a depleted NFC East which became the joke division of the NFL.

Their loss to the Packers was somewhat disappointing but the fact that was even being said showed just how far the Redskins had come under Gruden.

Cousins performed well as a QB, he was very steady and his accuracy percentage of 77.8% the second best in the whole of the NFL. He benefitted from a good offensive line and a decent receiving core but he used his weapons well and rarely made ill-advised throws.

That composure is something that stops a middle of the road quarterback such as Cousins becoming a basement quarterback such as Jay Cutler.

The Redskins were rocked by some slightly negative news recently and that is that Cousins isn’t even close to signing a long-term deal.

We are all aware of the franchise tag and they will likely have to use it on him if an agreement cannot be made. The issue I have with the franchise tag is that it leaves an uncertain future around the franchise, it almost delays the inevitable of someone wanting a big contract or jetting off. This is fine for a win-now team such as Denver who will likely tag Von Miller, but for a team such as the Redskins, keeping Cousins for just one more year makes no real sense. They have other needs to fill and it would be good for them to have Cousins penciled in as a long term starter so they can use free agency and the next couple of drafts to get future stars on their defence.

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There is, of course, the risk that Cousins gets his deal and regresses like so many players have in recent years, but you plan for that by structuring the deal in such a way that only some money is guaranteed. Cousins is in a great situation in Washington, he had a reliable receiving core and a good offensive line, if you add a running back to the mix it could become an ideal situation for any quarterback. Sure, he has options on the open market, but it makes no sense to leave a team that has done amazingly to accommodate him so far.

Washington have found their quarterback, they shouldn’t have to be looking for a new one in the next couple of drafts. Their 3-4 defence ran relatively well last year as Trent Murphy and Ryan Kerrigan were effective pass rushers who could move inside to stop the run, however, their linebacker core was arguably the worst in the whole of the NFL.

Without a quarterback tied down, they could very well have to use draft picks on their offence which won’t help their aging defence that has pieces like Terrence Knighton and Jason Hatcher closer to retirement than the pinnacle of their youth. They should be building a new defensive core with the early picks. Linebackers and defensive lineman need to be on the agenda and new receivers could help. So many teams struggle to even get an above average quarterback, so the Skins letting Cousins go because of not wanting to pay him would be foolish – it would be a piece of woeful mismanagement.

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I’m not here to say Cousins is an elite QB, but in the modern era I’m not sure you need your signal caller to be ‘elite’. You need him to be safe, able to throw a deep ball and effective in the right scheme.

This team isn’t that far away from being a consistent winner of the NFC East. They have a good line, a good coach, some good defensive pieces and right now their QB-Tight End combo is amongst the top three in the whole of the NFL.

The future is bright if Cousins is kept around, they should be negotiating tirelessly with him.