According to Washington Redskins team president Bruce Allen, there was nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
“We haven’t talked to anyone,” Allen told broadcasting partner CSN Mid-Atlantic in an interview published on Sunday. “I can’t keep up with the rumors. Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors.”
If Allen can be taken at face value, the Redskins entered the offseason with a plan of tagging Kirk Cousins with either the exclusive or transitional tag, tagged him, had the contract signed, and are now beginning the slow-burn negotiation process ahead of the July 15 deadline. Check, check, check and check.
If the team and player are still at an impasse on July 15, then Cousins will play out the season on a fully-guaranteed, one-year contract.
“That’s why we franchised him,” Allen said, matter-of-factly. “Our goal from the beginning has been long-term [deal]. I’m still hopeful and confident we’ll do it.”
While this is welcome news for Cousins’ supporters in the Redskins’ fan base, it seems hard to believe. Even if the Redskins didn’t shop Cousins around, or did but didn’t like any potential offers, it’s hard to believe that no one called.
Keep in mind that two of Cousins’ former offensive coordinators–Sean McVay in Los Angeles and Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco–are now head coaches of teams with shaky-at-best quarterback situations. The Texans and Browns are still in the market for a starting quarterback, and more than half of the NFL would consider Cousins an upgrade in the huddle.
Forget shopping him around–if no one is calling the Redskins about Cousins, they may want to check that the phones work at Redskins Park.
Reading between the lines on this, Allen recognizes that there is no significant trade market for Cousins, which means that he will be back under center this year. Admitting now that the team shopped him around, fielded offers or even talked to other teams is a distraction that undermines public overtures of support.
This is not the first time that Allen has pledged his support for Cousins, but all of it will ring somewhat hollow if they can’t get a long-term deal done by July 15. For the record, Allen has already acknowledged that tagging Kirk for a third year in a row in 2018 is still an option.