WASHINGTON — On the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period, the Redskins began negotiating with unrestricted free agent targets and also signed one of their own.
Late Tuesday night, Washington re-signed tight end Vernon Davis to a three-year contract, according to the player’s Snapchat account. Terms were not yet available.
Whether that other negotiating will lead to any deals remains to be seen, however. Washington is likely to lose wide receiver DeSean Jackson, according to two NFL sources. Jackson is drawing heavy interest from Tampa Bay, according to multiple national reports, among other teams. Pierre Garcon, too, seems a long shot to return barring a late push, according to a source.
Davis at least gives the Redskins some positive news in a difficult week where GM Scot McCloughan’s status with the organization remains clouded in mystery. He was again away from the team on Tuesday.
Davis is no longer the dominant presence who had 13 touchdown catches as recently as 2013 with the San Francisco 49ers. But he did rebound last year with Washington after signing a one-year deal and provided injury insurance for tight end Jordan Reed. Davis had 44 receptions for 583 yards and two touchdowns playing for his hometown team.
A three-year deal seems excessive for a player who just turned 33 on Jan. 31. But the Redskins faced competition for his services. Put Davis together with Reed, slot receiver Jamison Crowder and a healthy Josh Doctson (Achilles tendon) and you at least have the makings a strong passing game again — though another veteran receiver would interest Washington.
Make no mistake, it still won’t be easy to replace Jackson or Garcon if they leave. Doctson only played in two games last year and barely practiced once his injury flared up in May after rookie minicamp. But sources with knowledge of his rehabilitation say Doctson should be 100 percent by the end of March. His own Snapchat account recently showed him doing agility drills at Redskins Park.
The ultimate unknown, of course, is at quarterback, where Kirk Cousins still hasn’t signed his exclusive franchise tender. That could be for any number of reasons, but agent Mike McCartney and the team aren’t talking. Rumors of a trade, especially with the San Francisco 49ers and coach Kyle Shanahan, will linger until a long-term deal is signed or the July 15 deadline passes and Cousins plays 2017 on the franchise tag of $23.9 million.
In reality, the Redskins probably need to get a deal in place before the draft or cut their losses. Cousins is extremely unlikely to return here if he hits the open market in 2018. He could be bluffing and trying to extract maximum dollars from Washington as that deadline nears midsummer. But can it afford to wait and find out? The best bet if the Redskins think a deal isn’t possible is get what they can for the asset. That last, best chance might be right before the NFL draft on April 27 in Philadelphia.
Only owner Dan Snyder, team president Bruce Allen and vice president of football operations/general counsel Eric Schaffer, the team’s well-respected salary-cap guru, know for sure when their internal alarm clock expires. For now it’s a waiting game with Cousins and McCartney.
Meanwhile, defensive end Chris Baker is also drawing interest from teams around the league. It’s not yet clear if the Redskins made an offer on Tuesday, as expected. Denver and Tampa Bay, among others, have expressed interest in recent days.
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