WASHINGTON — The Redskins face their biggest existential crisis since hiring a general manager two years ago.
For the second straight year, they must make a decision about what to do with quarterback Kirk Cousins, and in order to make two of those options a reality, they will need the quarterback’s blessing. Only, the stakes are higher now.
Cousins, a free-agent-to-be, stands to become one of the NFL’s highest paid players regardless of which route the Redskins choose. Whether they franchise tag him again, present him with a long-term contract or let him walk, one way or another, he’s getting paid.
“I think most likely he gets a deal,” Washington Post reporter Mike Jones said Tuesday on 106.7 The Fan when presented with a hypothetical about which way the Redskins might be leaning.
“If the Redskins mess around and have to franchise him again, you’re paying him a total of like $43 million over the last two years, and you’re almost assured that he’s not going to be back next year, because then the franchise tag figure jumps up to $34 million,” he told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. “And if you couldn’t get a deal done last year or this year, what makes you think you’re gonna get one done next year?”
“So I think the Redskins understand that they’re going to have to pay,” he said. “Jay Gruden does not want to let him go. He has already lost his offensive coordinator. He’s going into year four [of a five-year contract]. This is the year you earn your contract extension.
“To lose Cousins would be really big, so I think most likely they’re going to get something done. They’ve already started some talks. It’s not going to happen tomorrow or next week; I think it’s going to be down to the wire, but they don’t want to lose him for no compensation. Absolutely not. They’d rather not franchise him, and so they really want to get that long-term deal done.”
Asked whether this was an informed guess or based on information he’s gathered from within the organization, Jones said, “It’s from talking to people and just trying to get a feel for where things stand, and just trying to do as much homework as possible.”
“Obviously they can continue talking, and maybe nobody’s batting an eye, and then [Cousins’ agent] Mike McCartney says, ‘Screw you guys: Either trade us, or let us walk,’ and things just fall apart, and then things would change,” Jones explained.
“But as things are right now,” he said, “I think there’s a little bit of cautious optimism on both sides that maybe they can get something done. Kirk wants continuity. Jay Gruden wants him here. They know that it’s hard to find a quarterback, and it’s gonna be a bad look for them also, and you know they care about how they’re viewed around the league.”