WASHINGTON — The Rams made a historic move Thursday in hiring 30-year-old Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay as their next head coach, the youngest in NFL history.
And just like that, the Redskins are in need of coordinators on both sides of the ball. Furthermore, if Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk’s instincts prove correct, they could be in search of a quarterback in short order, too.
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Florio is of the opinion the Redskins won’t franchise tag Kirk Cousins for a second straight offseason, which would make Cousins a free agent after March 1, and the top free agent on the market at the start of the new league year.
“If Sean McVay wants that job, he’s not going to show up at the interview and say, ‘You know, I’m very interested in coaching your team. I only have one problem with it: I hate your quarterback,'” Florio told Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “‘And my first order of business is we want to get rid of your quarterback and get somebody better.’
“Which is exactly what Josh McDaniels did in 2009 when he became the coach of the Broncos, unless he went into the interview saying ‘I want to get rid of Jay Cutler’ and the Broncos said ‘okay.’ I don’t think that’s what happened. And once you have the contract and the security that goes along with it, it’s easier to say, ‘You know what? I’ve got misgivings about the quarterback.'”
“So now that McVay has the job, will he have misgivings about Jared Goff?” Florio wondered. “Will he try to get Kirk Cousins? I mean, he’s available. He’s worked with him. And I don’t think [Washington’s] gonna use the franchise tag at $23.94 million on a guy who didn’t go back to the playoffs, so is that what’s up McVay’s sleeve? I don’t know at this point and we’ll only know based upon the decisions made and not made moving forward.”
Florio questions if the Redskins are truly willing to pay Cousins $23.94 million — what his second-straight franchise tag allotment would be — after the quarterback “had a playoff play-in game and blew it against a team that wasn’t playing for anything.”
“You’re gonna tie up that much money?” he said. “Listen to some of the things Scot McCloughan has said. He did an interview on radio back in July where he laid out his strategy, and his strategy is this: If you’re gonna pay $24 million for a quarterback and you could pay $12 million for a quarterback and another $12 million could be devoted to, I don’t know, a pass-rusher?
“I think McCloughan is going to rip the name off of the jersey, forget about the accomplishments, and it’s easier to do when you didn’t get back to the playoffs. When you throw a key interception in a big spot in a playoff play-in game, I think it’s much easier to justify taking a shot with someone else.”
“And we’d been reporting that,” Florio said. “People thought we were nuts. Look. McCloughan thinks he can find somebody as good or nearly as good as Kirk Cousins for a hell of a lot less money than what it would take to sign him to a long-term deal. And the franchise tag; do you really think he’s worth $24 million for one year with no guarantee you can keep him around next year?”
“You know what the franchise tag would be next year under the rules of the tag?” he said. “At $23.94 million this year, you use it the third year, you get a 44 percent raise over your prior year’s franchise tag — that’s $34.47 million next year if they’re back in this posture again.”
“Maybe the Brock Osweiler misadventure in Houston will make other teams less inclined to come after Kirk Cousins,” Florio said of Cousins, if he were to hit the open market. “But last year with Osweiler, they didn’t know what they were getting. McVay would know what he’s getting. Kyle Shanahan would know what he’s getting, if he gets a head coaching job and he decides to come after a quarterback.
“Let’s say he gets the job in San Francisco, and the thought is it’s going to be Shanahan or Josh McDaniels in San Francisco. If Shanahan gets that job in San Francisco, why wouldn’t he offer as much or more on a long-term deal for Kirk Cousins? He knows what Cousins can do and Cousins can run his offense.”
“All I’m saying is this: I’d be very surprised if they used the franchise tag,” Florio said. “So if they’re going to keep Kirk Cousins, they’re going to have to compete with the marketplace. On one hand, because Brock Osweiler has for the most part failed in Houston, that will make teams that don’t know Kirk Cousins less inclined to go after the proverbial pig-in-a-poke, but if you have guys out there who know him, and who have worked with him, and need a quarterback, those teams may make a more competitive offer.”
“And once you lose the franchise tag’s ability to hold Kirk Cousins in place, he can go wherever he wants,” he noted. “He can take less money somewhere else if he wants to. He can do whatever he wants at that point, and I think at this point it’s way too early to know what Washington is going to do and the next key date is March 1. That’s when the window closes on using the tag. If they don’t use the tag, then I think all bets are off and he could end up anywhere next year.”