INDIANAPOLIS -- Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan has met with representatives for quarterback Kirk Cousins this week at the NFL Scouting Combine to discuss a new contract.
Whether the two sides agree on a new contract for the pending free agent remains in doubt. Cousins, coming off his first full season as a starting quarterback, set a franchise record for passing yards in a season and led Washington to an NFC East title and a playoff berth.
"I would love to do a long-term deal with Kirk," McCloughan said. "But I'm not going to ruin the organization financially to do it."
Cousins would become a free agent on March 9. The organization can use its franchise or transition tags on him by March 1. Even if the Redskins do so, the two sides would still have until July 15 to sign a long-term extension. That is McCloughan's preferred outcome. But Cousins' agent Mike McCartney will have a say in that as well. McCloughan said he met with Cousins in his office at Redskins Park last week even as reports surfaced that talks between the two sides had stalled.
"It's a business. And we've to go with what we're going with," McCloughan said. "It's not about the individual. It's the sum of the parts. There's 52 other guys. Not saying the same 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 here and Kirk wants to be here. I think there's a way we can get to that point."
The Redskins could choose to let Cousins test the open market if using the franchise tag is onerous. But there are enough NFL teams desperate for help at that position, that move would pose a serious risk. Whatever happens financially, the Redskins believe Cousins is set to build on last season's breakthrough season.
"Because he did it without the luxury of being the No. 1 guy ever in this offense," head coach Jay Gruden said. "Training camp, OTAs -- he's always been second fiddle and hadn't gotten the reps. And then when we announced him the first-team quarterback after the third preseason game was really the first time we really catered the offense to him. He took it and ran with it."
--Redskins free-agent outside linebacker Junior Galette is on pace to return from a torn left Achilles tendon, a key development for a team that can use all the pass rush help it can get.
Galette was injured during training camp shortly after signing with the Redskins. He was cut by the New Orleans Saints for transgressions both on and off the field and was suspended two games by the NFL for an arrest on domestic violence charges that were later dropped.
"Rehab is coming along great. I see (Galette) in there every morning," Gruden said. "He's excited to get back on the field. I feel good about getting Junior back. I really do. We didn't have him very long on the field, unfortunately, but he showed enough on the field that he can be a force for us when he's right."
Now, the key is to get Galette signed. On breakdown day Jan. 11 at Redskins Park, Galette said that was his intention, even showing reporters a Redskins tattoo on his right biceps.
--The Redskins believe running back Matt Jones can be their No. 1 option next season if unrestricted free agent Alfred Morris doesn't return to the team. But he has to improve in two key areas to make that happen.
"He's a young guy that's got a lot of talent that has really good ball skills, but he's got to stay healthy and hold onto the ball," McCloughan said. "I feel really comfortable about him going into the season fighting for the one job for sure."
Who that will be with is the question. Morris is likely to depart so the Redskins either have to draft another running back or sign a veteran. McCloughan expressed no preference. Jones had surgery on his groin/hip after the season, but is expected to fully recover by the time offseason work begins.