The Washington Redskins don’t have until July 15 to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal. They have until April 27, because any time later jeopardizes the franchise’s future.
It’s not about 2017. This season goes on no matter who’s the quarterback, and it’s probably not a playoff year with a defense that’s still lacking no matter recent free-agent signings. Whether it’s Cousins, backup Colt McCoy or someone else, the Redskins need to concentrate more on who’s their quarterback from 2018-2023.
If Bruce Allen and Co. truly believe that Cousins is their future, then overpay now and be done with it. That Cousins is waiting for other high-profile passers league-wide to set the new benchmark means offering him a can’t-refuse offer rather than a rejected starting point. Whether it’s more guaranteed money or gigantic yearly salaries doesn’t matter. The Redskins backed themselves into this corner and they need to throw money at the problem like they have so often done.
If Washington doesn’t cut a deal by April 27 when the draft begins, they lose nearly all leverage. If Cousins smells freedom, he’s going one more year for $24 million and walking. No matter Allen says the team has another franchise tag year for maybe $34 million. That’s insane and a new team president should decide that because owner Dan Snyder needs to realize his current one has blown the biggest decision possible.
If Washington can’t sign Cousins by overpaying now, then trade him and move on. Yes, it stinks that it has waited a quarter-century to find a good quarterback and now doesn’t appreciate having one. This front office is forever chasing rainbows.
But it’s time to move on if Cousins can’t be bought. There’s no other choice. Trading him before the draft means using the compensation now rather than a July trade when forced to wait one year. And the market will be much softer after the draft because teams know the Redskins realize Cousins won’t return in 2018 if considering trade offers.
Normally, the price should be two first-rounders, but taking even a first this season and a mid-rounder next year is enough absent multiple bidders.
Meanwhile, the Redskins can use the extra pick to move up in the draft if needed. But unlike many years, quarterbacks aren’t inching their way up the draft board nearing the draft. Normally, everyone disrespects quarterbacks until the final days and then grabs them earlier than thought. Maybe it’s liar’s poker, perhaps it’s just desperation.
But maybe Mitchell Trubisky is still there when Washington picks at No. 17 as earlier teams look more for defensive help. And maybe he’s the next Ryan Tannehill who needs time but is worth it. The Redskins can find their replacement without another Robert Griffin III franchise-breaking bad deal that still haunts this team six years later while also having a second first-rounder for a needed defensive player or gasp — a running back.
For all this to happen, though, the Redskins need to swallow some pride, get Cousins’ agent on the phone and bid high and fast to learn their fate. This smug we’re-smarter-than-you approach won’t work against someone with options.
There is a way out of this mess for the Redskins. Too bad they’ll probably refuse to see it.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.