Here's five takeaways from Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan's press session at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine Feb. 24 in Indianapolis.
*1. There are conversations “going on every day” with Kirk Cousins and his camp about reaching some sort of deal. *
While Cousins is set to become an unrestricted free agent next month, the Redskins do not want him to get away.
Despite a recent report that said that the Redskins and Cousins weren’t talking in terms of reaching new contract terms, McCloughan says the team certainly hopes he’s back under center in 2016 after such an impressive season during his first year as a full-time starting NFL quarterback.
“I had a good conversation with him in my office last week as a matter of fact, and as you guys are well aware, he’s a quality guy and he wants to be a Redskin,” McCloughan said. “He knows the area, he knows the players, he knows that he’s respected, he knows the coaching staff that respects him, and he respects them and that’s very important in this business.
But McCloughan also reiterated that the Redskins’ success wasn’t all fully about Cousins.
“We’ve got to go with what we’re going with and you know, it’s not about the individual, it’s the sum of the parts like I always say,” McCloughan said. “There’s 52 other guys that, not saying same kind of talent level or same kind of financial investment, but I’ve got to make sure the organization is taken care of, but I want Kirk to be here and Kirk wants to be here. So, I think there’s a way we can get to that point.”
McCloughan also added that the Redskins would much rather lock down Cousins to a long-term deal opposed to placing the one-year franchise tag on him.
“Well I’d rather not, any year with any position,” McCloughan said of using the franchise tag. “I’d rather just get a long term deal done and guarantee some money so you have that flexibility. But again, it’s an option that you have if you need to use, but me personally I like to take care of our own, get them locked in to an extension and not have to worry about the franchise tag.”
*2. While all signs point to Robert Griffin III not being on the Redskins next season, McCloughan is in no rush to release the quarterback. *
Yes, Griffin III is seemingly no longer in the Redskins' plans, but with two weeks left until the new league year starting, McCloughan believes the former Heisman Trophy-winner “deserves respect” for the way he handled the 2015 season, and for what he did for the team during his years following his selection in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Check out the sights from Day 1 of Redskins.com's coverage of the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016.
“Not just from me but from you guys and the organization and what he’s done, the person he’s been and what he did this year in the situation that was very, very difficult,” McCloughan said.
Griffin III, of course, burst onto the scene as a rookie, leading the Redskins to their first division title in 13 years and earning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
But his second and third seasons were marred by inconsistent play and injuries.
Right before the start of last year’s campaign, Cousins was named the starting quarterback instead of Griffin III after he struggled in the preseason and then was diagnosed with a concussion during the team’s second preseason game.
“The thing about it was, he’s a really good guy, he’s been a really good player for the Redskins when he’s been on the field,” McCloughan said. “He had the injury this year, Kirk went through the training camp and won the job in preseason, which is what Jay needs to do, the guy who wins the job plays in the game. We were going through conversations, there was no reason for us to cut him earlier, I mean there really wasn’t.”
3. McCloughan believes this year’s draft is one of the deepest he’s ever seen.
While the Redskins general manager wouldn’t go into specifics, he believes this year’s crop of NFL hopefuls is very strong, particularly in certain positions.
Take the defensive line, for example. Players like Robert Nkemdiche, Jarran Reed, A’Shawn Robinson, Noah Spence, Sheldon Rankins and many, many others have all be floated around first round consideration in mock drafts.
But while there are some positives to this year’s group, there’s also a different feeling thanks to so many players jumping from the college ranks early.
“This year we had 117 juniors come out, or underclassmen. Last year was 65. So that plays into it, too,” McCloughan said. “But that’s scary. That’s why it’s so important to be here and get measurable, get the medical, get the interview stuff with the juniors, the underclassmen. But it’s a strong draft, very strong.”
But whether it’s a four- or five-year senior or a guy who only spent three seasons in college, it doesn’t change the actually scouting phase of things much.
“From my standpoint, we’re going to scout them this year, we’re going to scout them next year. Either way it’s the same,” McCloughan said. “But if a guy’s an even junior or redshirt sophomore and a senior, I’d take the senior, a guy that fulfilled his commitment. But still, it’s understandable these underclassmen are really talented guys.”
*4. Even though the Redskins showed stark improvement in McCloughan’s first season as general manager, the team is far from set. *
Yes, some positions are a little bit stronger than others, but McCloughan believes the Redskins need help all across the lineup if they want to at the very least repeat as NFC East champions next year.
When it comes to the draft, that’s where he prefers to build the team, highlighted by his strong draft class in 2015.
“We need help everywhere,” McCloughan said. “We really do, and not just as a straight line starter or front line starter, but even as a solid two, solid three, a really good teams guy. That’s the one thing right now, hopefully we get to the point where we can identify certain positions where we feel really strong at, but we need football players, it’s plain and simple.”
While not every single player drafted will start for the Redskins, they could provide a big boost to their depth.
And as last season proved, having a deep team can go a long way.
“On Sundays, we’re playing, Week 14, we’ve got eight guys on IR, we’ve got 14 that are injured, when you add value players, especially in the draft, now you’ve got something,” McCloughan said. “Now you’re out there, guys are playing, making plays, helping win games.”
- McCloughan believes Matt Jones has the ability to be the Redskins’ lead back, but he needs to prove it. **
Jones in many ways was the Redskins top running back last season, but between ball security issues and some inconsistent performances all wasn’t completely perfect during his rookie season.
In 13 games, Jones, a third-round pick, carried the ball 144 times for 490 yards and three touchdowns while also hauling 19 receptions for 304 yards and a touchdown.
But Jones also fumbled five times, four of which were recovered by the opponent.
With a greater focus on keeping the ball tight, and with the possibility that Alfred Morris is no longer with the Redskins next year, Jones will get his chance to shine, though.
“He’s got to hold onto the ball,” McCloughan said. “That’s huge for a running back. He’s a young guy that’s got a lot of talent. He’s got some really good ball skills, but he’s got to stay healthy and hold onto the ball. But I feel really comfortable about him going into the season fighting for the one job for sure.”