WASHINGTON — The Redskins appear to be at an impasse in negotiations with free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins.
To the alarm of many fans on Tuesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported both sides had “broken off contract talks” with “no further talks scheduled,” though he drastically walked back the severity of his tone the following afternoon. “Sides still talking, but not much to discuss now,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s not contentious between the Redskins and Kirk Cousins, not at all.”
The larger point remains; Cousins just proved himself as an NFL starter in his walk year, and the Redskins want to limit their financial commitment to him as much as possible, hence the impasse.
Negotiations could take months if the the Redskins apply the franchise tag, which would extend their exclusive negotiating rights, but now the team is receiving public pressure from inside its own walls.
Pierre Garçon (@PierreGarcon) February 17, 2016
Chris Baker (@cbaker92redskin) February 16, 2016
Chris Baker (@cbaker92redskin) February 17, 2016
For tenured players, Cousins’ breakout season was no surprise.
“Kirk has honestly been doing this throughout each OTAs,” tight end Niles Paul told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. “Through OTAs and training camp, we’ve all seen Kirk show what he’s capable of. I feel like this year, minus everything that went on, he got the coaching staff to believe in him and that’s really all it takes from a player and his coaching staff.”
“You’ve got to get them to believe in you,” he continued. “They have to show you that you’re their guy, they believe in you, and no matter what you go out there and do, no matter what mistakes you made, you’re not playing to make mistakes, you’re out there just playing football. And I think that was real important for Kirk this year, to have the coaches believe in him in the sense of him being the guy.”
Jay Gruden and his coaching staff’s belief in their quarterback was visible in Cousins’ very first comments after being named the starter.
“There’s something powerful about feeling believed in,” Cousins said last August. “And there’s something powerful about knowing where you stand. I feel like Jay has done that today. We’ll go from there.”
Still remaining is the issue of what to do with Robert Griffin III. The belief is he will be released before March 9, saving the Redskins the $16.1 million he’d be guaranteed by remaining on the roster after that point. The Redskins have yet to release Griffin, though, with many speculating their reasoning is to limit the probability of him signing with an NFC East rival.
Once released, Griffin’s two most likely options seem to be either sign with a team in dire need of a quarterback, thus increasing his chance to play right away, or sign somewhere as a backup and learn behind a proven veteran quarterback. Paul suggests Griffin may be leaning toward the latter.
“Robert hasn’t missed a beat,” he said. “I’m confident, wherever he goes, he’ll play and I expect him to do big things, because that’s just the type of person he is, the competitor he is. I know Rob is not down and out, he’s just that type of guy and I love him to death. I know that, if it’s not here, wherever he goes he’ll ball out. I guarantee that.”