Gruden was enthusiastic talking about Lanier during the owners meetings. He liked Lanier's length -- he's 6-foot-6 with long arms. During one-on-one pass rushes in practice, Gruden said Lanier stood out. Whether it's just offseason optimism or false hope will be determined starting in late July. For now, it's a time to dream and Gruden saw enough during those drills to hope for more in 2017.
Third-down defense. Improving here is a focus at Redskins Park. Washington allowed a staggering 46.6 percent to be converted. The Redskins run defense absolutely must improve, but it’s not as if they were in third-and-short all the time. Of their 208 third-down snaps, 107 occurred when the opposition needed at least 7 yards. Yet opponents converted a staggering 38.3 percent of those tries. That’ll kill many a game (or season).
Yeah, the talent around Cousins helped, but he also made it work and deserves credit. Look at the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan and what he did last year -- when the talent improved. Early in his career he was surrounded by more talent and produced. But Ryan was rather pedestrian for several years before 2016, leading to stories last offseason wondering if the Falcons would even extend his contract.
Put bluntly, that's not close enough to sign Cousins, regardless of the guaranteed money. He stands to make $24 million this year, and Allen has repeatedly mentioned an 'option' for Cousins in 2018. That option could be one of two things: the transition tag or another franchise tag. The transition tag would carry a price tag around $28 million in 2018. The franchise tag would go even higher, detrimentally, to around $34 million.