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Kirk Cousins won’t be with the Washington Redskins anymore, but until he signs elsewhere he still factors in the conversation — in Washington and a number of other cities. That leads us to this week’s mailbag.

John Keim: It just doesn’t make sense for Cleveland to be on this list — for either side.

Let’s look at it from Cousins’ perspective and put aside money for a second. The latter almost always determines a player’s decision, but if there are options and it’s close then it will be about other factors.

Cousins has said quite often that his No. 1 goal is winning. The Browns have gone 1-31 combined the last two years. What makes anyone think they’re that close to turning the corner to where Cousins would be tempted? Yes, they have some intriguing pieces and have compiled a potentially excellent front office, but they have the same head coach who … has won one game in two years. Cousins turns 30 in August; let someone else — a younger player or a veteran without many options — put their faith in the Browns.

Granted, if he’s tagged and signs the tender then, yes, Washington could indeed trade him. But, as has been mentioned often, all Cousins has to do is not sign the tender. Until he signs it, the Redskins can’t trade him and he’d count on their salary cap when the new league year begins (unless they rescind the tag beforehand. Otherwise, they’re killing their cap). If tagged, there’s a real good chance Cousins’ side would file a grievance anyway under the belief it goes against why the tag was put into place.

Also, there are ways for Cousins’ side to let the Browns know he won’t sign a long-term deal with them.

Now, let’s look from Cleveland’s perspective. In your scenario, the Browns would have a rookie quarterback. Yes, they’d be wise to add a veteran who can help that player’s development — through teaching and playing well enough that the rookie can sit and learn. They absolutely need someone who can guide them; heck, DeShone Kizer could have used that sort of player last year.

But would you really trade a draft pick and then keep Cousins at $34.5 million for one year just to mentor a young quarterback for one season? That’s insane. Yes, they have the cap space but that doesn’t mean you blow it that way. Cousins is a good quarterback; to invest all that in one year you’d better be landing one who is the final piece of a Super Bowl team and on the way to the Hall of Fame. Before you say, “But it’s the Browns” I go back to the front office they have compiled. That group isn’t dumb. And even the biggest Cousins fans out there would have to realize such a move would be incredibly dumb. It’s hard to imagine any other team trading for Cousins knowing that, if tagged, his recent history shows the starting salary will be the equivalent of the tag number — and there won’t be any long-term deal agreed to beforehand. Good luck with all that.

The Browns were willing to trade for Alex Smith until the Redskins won that battle. However, Smith counts only $17 million on the cap this season and, at the time, was in the last year of his deal. Cleveland wasn’t going to sign him to a long-term deal. It was truly an affordable one-and-done with a quality quarterback.

Cousins would be anything but affordable. There are cheaper alternatives for the Browns if they want to get a veteran quarterback who can play until the rookie is ready.

There will be better options for Cousins. There are more affordable options for the Browns.



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Lions releasing running back Kerryon Johnson, per reports

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The Detroit Lions are releasing running back Kerryon Johnson, according to multiple reports.

Detroit drafted the former Auburn standout in the second round in 2018. Johnson became expendable after the team drafted D’Andre Swift No. 35 overall in 2020, signed free agent running back Jamaal Williams in March and drafted Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson last week.

Johnson ran for 1,225 yards and eight touchdowns over three seasons. He also has 61 career receptions for 527 yards and three scores.

Last year, he had 181 yards rushing and two scores on 52 carries. and had 19 receptions for 187 yards receiving and a touchdown.

NFL Network first reported that Johnson would be waived.

The Lions also added a player in free agency, signing tight end Darren Fells on Wednesday. The move gives the team a veteran at the position it can put on the field with Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson.

The 35-year-old Fells has 123 career catches with 1,483 yards receiving and 21 touchdowns. The previous two years in Houston, he had a combined 55 catches for 653 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Fells has started 76 games — including 13 with the Lions in 2017 — and played in 102 games with Arizona, Detroit, Cleveland and the Texans. He was a rebounding standout at UC Irvine and played basketball in Argentina, Mexico, Belgium, Finland and France before playing in the NFL.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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QB Blaine Gabbert re-signing with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on 1-year, $2.5 million deal, source says

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TAMPA, Fla. — Once again, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has kept his word.

Days after saying the Bucs would work to re-sign Tom Brady’s top backup, quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the team is indeed re-signing Gabbert to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Gabbert, who has played in 60 career games with 48 starts, previously earned $1.187 million in 2020 and $1.6 million in 2019.

Last season, Gabbert, 31, completed 9 of 16 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, with all but one of those pass attempts coming in the second half against the Detroit Lions in Week 16, when Arians opted to rest Brady.

The Bucs selected quarterback Kyle Trask in the second round of the NFL draft last week, but Arians said that would not preclude them from re-signing Gabbert. The team also re-signed Ryan Griffin, who was last year’s third-string backup, earlier this offseason.

Gabbert enters his third season with the Bucs, after spending 2018 with the Tennessee Titans, 2017 with Arians and the Arizona Cardinals, 2014-16 with the San Francisco 49ers and 2011-13 with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Gabbert has had an eventful offseason. In addition to attending the Kentucky Derby with Brady and Griffin on Saturday, he married longtime sweetheart Bekah Mills in Paradise Valley, Arizona, in March.

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NFL sends memo reminding clubs the league will not pay players who suffer injuries away from facilities

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The NFL reminded teams Wednesday that they are not obligated to pay players who suffer an injury away from the team facility, an issue that moved this week to the center of an ongoing dispute between the NFL and NFL Players Association over in-person participation in offseason workouts.

The memo, obtained by ESPN, was prompted by several prominent players who were surprised by media reports about Denver Broncos offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James, who tore an Achilles tendon this week while working out on his own and could miss the 2021 season. NFL contracts have long classified such injuries as “non-football,” because they happen away from the team environment, and they are not covered by typical injury guarantees. As a result, the Broncos could withhold James’ salary for as long as he is sidelined. More than $10 million would have been guaranteed if the injury had occurred at the Broncos’ facility.

The NFL has noted this contractual leverage multiple times during negotiations with the NFLPA, which has advised players to skip the voluntary portion of in-person offseason training unless they stand to lose workout bonuses.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was among those who seemed unaware of the full implications of “non-football’ injuries in comments this week on social media.

“According to the media coverage,” the NFL wrote in its memo, “several players have expressed surprise that Mr. James’ injury was not covered by his Injury Guarantee, although this point has been made frequently in our discussions with the NFLPA about the offseason program. Clubs are encouraged to remind players of the significant injury-related protection provided if they choose to work out at the club facility and the risks they undertake in choosing to train in non-NFL locations.”



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