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Redskins give Jay Gruden contract extension to distract from ongoing dysfunction

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More of the same in Washington.

NFL: New York Giants at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

If you went to bed early on Saturday evening, you may have missed the news that the Washington Redskins signed head coach Jay Gruden to a two-year contract extension. Gruden’s deal now runs through the 2020 season.

Some might argue this news is a sign of stability for Washington. After all, Gruden’s extension marks the first time a head coach has been re-upped during Dan Snyder’s tenure as the owner of the franchise. (Yeesh.)

But there’s also an argument that this extension serves as a “good news” distraction to take attention away from ongoing dysfunction ever present in Washington’s organization.

The latest dysfunction in D.C. involves the team’s general manager: Scot McCloughan. It all started when Washington didn’t allow McCloughan to speak to the media after the end of the 2016 season. Former Washington tight end Chris Cooley, now a radio host, speculated McCloughan, who once had a drinking problem, wasn’t talking because the GM was drinking again. Cooley’s speculation occured on a Snyder-owned radio station, and the team did nothing to come out and deny the former player’s musing.

More questions about McCloughan’s status arose when it was revealed he wasn’t attending the 2017 NFL Combine. It’s rare for a general manager to miss such an important event on the league calendar. Along with evaluating draft prospects, the Combine is also a time when league executives and agents gather and gear up for NFL free agency.

Washington has explained McCloughan’s absence by saying he’s been with his family since the death of his 100-year-old grandmother on Feb. 6. There isn’t a timetable for him to return, though, and free agency begins in just a matter of days.

In addition, the Washington Post recently wrote about how there’s an effort by some inside the organization, namely president Bruce Allen, to discredit McCloughan. It doesn’t seem like there’s a healthy relationship going on there, which makes McCloughan’s absence even stranger.

The McCloughan situation isn’t the only example of Washington dysfunction. Another big ticket item for them includes the questions surrounding their quarterback situation. Washington hit Kirk Cousins with the franchise tag this week, making the 28-year-old quarterback the third highest paid passer in 2017 at $24 million.

Cousins’ contract situation is a tricky one for Washington. If he plays on the tag this season, he’ll hold a ton of leverage heading into next offseason when he’s a free agent yet again. Washington won’t be able to tag him a third time because doing so would cost $35 million.

And knowing that, Cousins won’t have to settle for anything less than a premium deal. It might even take a deal so lucrative that it would make him the highest paid player in NFL history. Cousins has posted some good numbers in recent years, yes, but the reality is he hasn’t won big games. He’s not a truly elite quarterback. Washington knows this, too, which explains their hesitation in extending him.

Complicating matters even further is the fact that Cousins reportedly doesn’t prefer to be in Washington. There’s talk he wants to reunite with his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. Cousins is well-aware of the fact that Washington hasn’t wanted to seriously commit to him.

So between the bizarre McCloughan drama and the uneasy Cousins situation, Washington needed some good news. And perhaps that’s what motivated the Gruden extension.

Gruden is 21-26-1 in 48 regular season games with Washington. His sole playoff appearance with the team was a 35-18 loss at home to the Packers. Though Gruden hasn’t been downright terrible, that’s not exactly the resume of a coach a team should be rushing to extend.

As far the Eagles are concerned, they probably won’t be happy to see Gruden is sticking around. Gruden’s side has recorded five straight wins over Philadelphia dating back to the end of the 2014 season. It remains to be seen if Washington can maintain their streak, however, if their dysfunction continues.