The Redskins head into the most pivotal offseason in recent memory. Washington has 20 free agents this offseason, but it all starts and ends with quarterback Kirk Cousins.

What will the Redskins do with Kirk Cousins?

The Redskins will make a franchise altering decision this offseason. Will the Redskins lock down quarterback Kirk Cousins long term? Washington could put the franchise tag on him for the third straight year, but that would cost $34.47 million. While that is possible it seems unlikely and Washington will want to make a decision one way or the other this offseason regarding Cousins’ long term future.

According to Washington Post staff writer Mark Maske, “Any long-term deal with the Redskins or any other team probably would approach or exceed the $27 million-per-season price tag of Matthew Stafford’s record five-year, $135 million deal with the Detroit Lions.”

Kirk Cousins finished off the 2017 season with a three-interception performance against the Giants. The Redskins 2016 season ended with a season ending interception against the Giants. Washington simply needed to beat the Giants to make the playoffs that year.

Cousins is a mid-tier quarterback who can win with a good supporting cast around him. Outside of future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, the three quarterbacks left in the playoffs are Case Keenum, Blake Bortles, and Nick Foles. If you have a solid defense and running game it goes a long way as the Vikings, Jaguars and Eagles have proven.

The biggest question for Washington will be can they acquire a quarterback better that Cousins this offseason? If not the Redskins may be better off signing Cousins to a long-term deal and building around him.

What are the Redskins Biggest Positions of Need?  

Washington gave up 134 yards per game on defense in 2017, which was the worst in the NFL. Washington has a lot of talent in the secondary but it did not matter much because Washington could not stop the run. If the Redskins want to improve in 2018 it starts with getting more talent on the defensive line. Injuries to training camp standout Phil Taylor and first round pick Jonathan Allen did not help, but Washington could still use some more help up front.

If Cousins returns he will need more help from his wide receivers. Jamison Crowder was the Redskins most dangerous wide receiver, but he was too inconsistent. Josh Doctson made a number of impressive plays, but had too many drops. Ryan Grant was the Redskins most consistent wide receiver, but he is a free agent. Terrelle Pryor was signed to be the Redskins number one receiver, but he is almost certain to leave due to a dreadful 2017 season.

Washington has a talented offensive line, but could use an upgrade at left guard. According to Pro Football Focus Shawn Lauvao was the 73rd best guard in 2017. Lauvao is the weak link on the Redskins offensive line and needs to be replaced this offseason.

Can the Redskins return to the postseason next season? 

Washington finished the 2016 season 8-7-1 and the 2017 season 7-9. The Redskins are a mediocre team who has lost crucial games that have cost them a chance at the playoffs. In 2016 Washington needed to beat the Giants in week 17 to make the postseason and could not get it done.

The Redskins went 1-5 in the division in 2017, which is terrible. Wide receiver Josh Docston dropped a game winning catch against the then undefeated Chiefs. The Redskins defense got steamrolled by Vikings quarterback Case Keenum who threw for four touchdowns. The next week against the Saints the Redskins defense could not hold onto a 15-point lead with less than six minutes left in the game.

Yes Washington had a lot of injuries in 2017, but the Redskins gave away a number of games. Other times one unit would perform well, while another struggled. Washington must become a more consistent team that avoids mistakes to return to the postseason.

The coaching must also improve. Head coach Jay Gruden was at a loss for words after a loss against the Chargers. That indicates a lack of preparation, which is unacceptable.

The Redskins are not that far away. If Washington can stay healthy and acquire a few more players in key positions a return to the postseason is certainly possible.

Will Fairfax is a Washington Redskins editor and staff writer for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @willfairfax1Looking for more Redskins news and features? Like our Facebook page HERE and also follow @spot_redskins on Twitter.