Signing Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal isn’t about Kirk Cousins; it’s about the pocket-sized man who still owns the most dysfunctional team in professional sports. You may have thought that Dan Snyder matured these past few years, finally becoming more of an owner than a meddler, but don’t be fooled. Snyder seems once again hell-bent on driving this franchise into the depths.
Today, the Redskins used their franchise tag to control Kirk Cousins for the 2017 season. The franchise tag is a slap in the face —albeit a $23.94 million slap — no player wants to be tagged. Cousins is now the first quarterback in NFL history to be tagged in consecutive seasons.
Passive fans now rejoice knowing that the Redskins have their guy for another year. Cousins’ haters will say that the tag is too expensive and he should be traded ASAP. The rest of us — the informed — have begun to panic. The future of this franchise will be won or lost in the next 136 days.
If the Redskins do not work out a long-term deal with Cousins before July 15, 2017, their next chance to negotiate with him will come after the 2017 season, at which time tagging Cousins for a third time (seriously) would cost between $28-35 million (won’t happen), or he will become an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team he chooses (will happen).
By not working out a long-term deal with Cousins before the July deadline, the Redskins are betting against Cousins, again. How the hell are fans supposed to enjoy games knowing that every success their quarterback has makes it more likely that he’ll be leaving town? Will our front office be rooting for interceptions and injuries to improve their negotiating position? This scenario will be more difficult to endure than the John Beck era.
Why won’t the Redskins take the logical option? If I had a dollar for every time I asked myself this question, I could pay for Cousins’ deal myself.
Kirk Cousins, or “Kurt” if you are Redskins President and Dan Snyder mouthpiece Sean Spicer Bruce Allen, is not a perfect quarterback. No one will debate that. He isn’t Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or even Eli Manning. He hasn’t won when it matters most and to some people that is all they need to see before turning the page on him and moving on to the next option. “How can you give a guy $100M contract when he hasn’t even won a playoff game?”
Combine that notion with the recent struggles of teams that have paid successful young quarterbacks (Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck), and it’s hard to deny that signing Cousins to a nine-figure deal will complicate efforts to improve at the dozen or so other positions that the team needs to enhance.
Here’s your counterargument: Without a competent quarterback, everything else on your NFL team is irrelevant.
If you don’t believe that, watch a Texans game. Go watch tape of Brock Osweiler, look at Ryan Fitzpatrick scramble and throw across his body, turn on a Broncos game and bask in Trevor Siemian’s pocket presence. These gentlemen are lost, and they’ll be replaced next season with a new stable of shiny losers and past-their-prime Band-Aids like Tony Romo.
Quarterback is the most difficult position in sports. The Redskins have their first competent quarterback in three decades; nonetheless they seem to want nothing more than to go back to the Stone Age.
More so than an owner, Dan Snyder is an NFL fan. Judging from my experience, the majority of NFL fans are insane. They watch the league’s five-to-six great quarterbacks play every week and think, “It’s so easy, we can get one of those” and “Look Bruce, they got him in the fourth round!” completely ignoring the fact that the success rate of drafted quarterbacks hovers somewhere around five percent.
Optimistically, it takes an NFL team 10-15 years to find a quarterback worthy of leading their team for four-plus seasons — we’re not even talking about great quarterbacks, just serviceable ones. When you find one, you don’t let him go, even if it is going to cost you more than you planned. By betting against Cousins last season, the Redskins now owe him an a–hole tax on top of what they think he’d get paid on the open market. When you’re engaged for five years, you have to give the bride a fancy wedding.
If I believed that the Redskins’ concerns with signing Cousins were solely financial, this situation would be easier to swallow. However; this offseason’s fumbling has Dan Snyder, and his ostentatious obsession, written all over it.
Snyder is like Ricky Bobby’s dad in Talladega nights: “Things are going too well, I’m starting to get itchy.” He’d rather sell merchandise today than build a better team tomorrow. If Robert Griffin III had put up the same numbers Kirk Cousins has over the past two seasons, Snyder would have given him a 10-year, billion-dollar deal, three Johnny Rockets franchises and a daily one-hour self-help show on ESPN980.
Kirk Cousins is boring, and we may already have seen him play his best football. What the Redskins would get by extending Cousins is consistency — something that seemed inconceivable in 2014 — and a chance to build a team. The pressure would then shift to GM, Scot McCloughan, and contract-year head coach, Jay Gruden, to build around that stability.
If the Redskins stay on their current path and botch the Cousins situation, the consequences will be dire. This is not hyperbole; it will be back to the bottom of the league and the butt of jokes for us. Gruden won’t survive without Cousins. If he’s not on his way out already, McCloughan will follow suit. And, with that, any sense of hope or consistency will be gone, because we will know with certainty that ownership has not matured and never will.
We’ll need a new coach and a new quarterback after the 2017 season and we all know how great coaching searches go for this franchise — we can’t even attract defensive coordinators. It’ll be Harvest Feast 365 days per year with Allen running the show unregulated by a football guy like McCloughan.
This Cousins situation is a Lee Carvallo one-foot putt and the Redskins have selected POWER DRIVE.
Yet, all this turmoil can be easily stymied by handling the Cousins negotiation professionally.
What Cousins seeks is the same thing that fans of the Redskins have desperately thirsted for over the past 25 years — stability — which can sometimes be boring.
*If the 49ers offer the Redskins two first-round picks for Cousins, please disregard the above article and SELL, SELL, SELL.
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