Redskins May Be Willing to Franchise Tag Cousins Again, Then Let Him Walk

WASHINGTON — So, we need to talk about Kirk Cousins.

The latest non-development in the Redskins quarterback’s fight for a long-term deal concluded with the Redskins declining to give him a long-term deal before last Friday’s deadline to do so.

This has brought about some compelling revelations which, perhaps, provide us a glimpse into how general manager Scot McCloughan, or team owner and president Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen — or all of the above — really feel about the quarterback.

Bearing in mind nothing has really changed since the Redskins franchise-tagged Cousins in early March, let’s take a look at what Mike Garafolo of NFL Media reported over the weekend.

“Let me take you back to February,” Garafolo said on NFL Network. “I reported back then that the Redskins made two offers; one at $12.5 million per year on a multi-year deal, and then another one at $15 million per year on a multi-year deal.”

“Now I doubled back on some of this information and I talked to somebody who was informed of the progress of talks all the way through,” he said. “And they said there was one more offer after I reported that, and it was at $16 million per year, and that was right around the time of the scouting combine in February. From that point to right now, as we’re up against the deadline, the Redskins did not improve that offer.”

Jason La Canfora reported for CBS Sports, echoing similar remarks he expressed on 106.7 The Fan last week, that Snyder was the one holding up the deal, that Snyder “wants to see a larger sample size from the former mid-round pick.”

Chris Russell shared this sentiment, which he used as a launching point for a blistering radio rant last week about Snyder and Allen’s perceived meddlesome ways, in which Russell claimed they were attempting to “humiliate” Cousins.

This would be a convenient theory for McCloughan, who, to this point in his time with the Redskins, has maintained a reputation as being Washington’s white knight, to embrace. It deflects blame for taking an unpopular position about fan-favored Cousins onto the historically meddlesome owner.

Here’s what McCloughan had to say about Cousins, and their contract talks, when asked by Jason Cole on SiriusXM’s Bleacher Report Radio whether he has any fear Cousins will play uptight, nervously or anxiously on a one-year deal in 2016:

“You know what? It’s unique. This is my second offseason taking the job. Of course last year we had Robert here, who was named the starter, and just to see how Kirk did, how Colt McCoy did, both of them. But to see this offseason, with Kirk being ‘the guy’ for sure at quarterback for us — I understand he signed the [franchise] tender day one — to see his leadership, to see his confidence, and to see that players respond to him, I feel very positive about it.

“Of course, I think on both sides, we’d like to get a long-term deal done prior to the deadline, but it didn’t happen. But you know what? He’s a pro. He shows up every day and we’re gonna be fine. We’re gonna be fine. And hopefully he’s our quarterback for a long time going forward. He’s a good quality person, he’s a good football player, and the players respect him.”

McCloughan has remained fairly consistent throughout the offseason with his public thoughts on the quarterback position. At the scouting combine, remember, just prior to using the franchise tag on Cousins, he told reporters, “I would love to do a long-term deal with Kirk. But I’m not going to ruin the organization financially to do it.”

What if someone were to tell you, in a hypothetical world, that, not only do the Redskins not plan on giving Cousins a long-term deal after 2016 — even if he can replicate the success of last season — but they may even be willing to replicate this franchise-tagged stalemate saga in 2017?

Direct your attention to Mike Florio, guest-writing for Peter King on TheMMQB.com:

It’s not easy to reconcile the team’s willingness to give Cousins nearly $20 million guaranteed for one year but only $24 guaranteed on a multi-year deal. The answer resides in G.M. Scot McCloughan’s quiet confidence that he can find another quarterback with comparable skill for a lot less money.

Cousins wanted $44 million fully guaranteed at signing, roughly the sum of what he would have made under the tag this year ($19.95 million) and next year with a 20-percent raise ($23.94 million). Instead of paying Cousins that much money now, Washington can pay him the $19.95 million now and, if he plays well against this season, the $23.94 million next year. Then, come 2018, Washington will either sign him to a long-term deal based on his open-market value (whatever it may be), use the tag a third time (which is unlikely, given that he’d get a 44-percent raise to $34.47 million), or let him leave and replace him with someone who has been groomed to take over.

Florio goes on to write, “The team believes that, by 2017 or 2018, it will have found a quarterback on a slotted, low-money rookie four-year deal who can do what Cousins does, or close to it. That could be 2016 rookie sixth-rounder Nate Sudfeld, or it could be someone else.”

Report: Redskins Work Out Jimmy Clausen

As shocking as that may be, in a perfect world — where they’re able to find an exact replacement, or something better, for Cousins — fiscally, such a power play would keep the Redskins competitive in free agency, especially in a market that is seeing quarterback contracts balloon annually.

Whether that’s how the organization truly feels, and the Redskins are indeed on the cutting edge of the next NFL trend with respect to paying quarterbacks, one can also not rule out the possibility that we are witnessing Snyder’s latest design of offseason drama, aimed at drumming up suspense for the coming season. Just as one cannot rule out that Snyder/Allen may still be pulling the strings behind the scenes.

Or, it could just be that McCloughan isn’t sold on Kirk Cousins.

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan on Twitter.

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