WASHINGTON — As Kirk Cousins piles up huge passing numbers for the second straight season, Redskins great Joe Theismann asks the obvious question: How much more do you need to see?
“How much more do you need to see?” Theismann said to 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. “Here’s the other thing, too. Let’s just take the signing of Kirk Cousins. What does that say to the fans and to the other players on the team?
“When somebody plays at the level that Kirk is playing at and he doesn’t get what would be fair compensation, whatever that compensation might be, the players are sitting there going, ‘Wow. Look at what this guy has done, and this is the way they reward him?'”
Cousins last season surpassed Theismann as the Redskins’ single-season passing leader, probably to Theismann’s delight, and soon may push to become only the sixth quarterback in NFL history to pass for over 5,000 yards (he’s on pace to throw for 5,148).
“I think the looming decision is economically right now in Kirk’s favor tremendously,” Theismann said. “I spent the morning actually looking at contracts of different individuals, because you’re gonna have to compare and contrast where he is financially once you make the commitment.”
Theismann went on to mention big money quarterbacks Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees — all of whom have won Super Bowls — and then Jay Cutler as price points for Cousins: “The signing bonus inside those contracts is somewhere between $30- and $35 million.”
“As far as Kirk’s development goes, you just see him getting more and more comfortable with Sean McVay, the way Sean, our offensive coordinator, calls plays,” Theismann said. “I think to a large degree, this is taking nothing away from Kirk, the reason his numbers are where they are is a little bit like and reflective in Drew Brees, because we don’t really have a running game at all, and the strength of our offense lies in the guys up front and your receivers. You know, Robert [Kelley’s] done a nice job coming in and running the football, but we don’t get 100-yard rushing games. So the burden of responsibility will fall on Kirk’s shoulders, and he has met every challenge, he’s brought the team back on a number of occasions.”
On how Cousins has grown over five seasons in Washington, Theismann said the most noticeable improvement has been his “ownership of the position of leadership on the football team.”
“When he steps on the field, I believe that those guys feel like they have a chance to win it,” he said. “You can’t say that about a lot of quarterbacks in the National Football League. There’s guys just filling a space. But on this football team, when Kirk steps on the field, they believe in him, they play hard for him.
“And you listen to him. He always deflects credit away from what he’s accomplished. He cites his teammates, he cites his coaching, he gives credit to the opponents for being really good. You know, just the admiration he showed for Aaron Rodgers after the Green Bay game just as an example this past week or so ago.”
Theismann added: “Kirk showed all that emotion after the Green Bay game when he sort of mentioned to Scot [McCloughan], ‘How you like me now?’ It’s really unique. With Kirk, there’s little things that you notice. He’s very even-keel, he’s a true student, a consummate professional, but you can tell that it’s almost like he’s saying, ‘What else do you need me to do?’ I’ve been consistent. I show up every day for work. I’m not a pain in the organization’s neck. I’m a great citizen of the NFL and a great representative of the Washington Redskins. My play on the field, it stands for itself.”
Theismann went on to say he’d love to see Cousins get a seven-year deal, “that way you can spread the money out, guarantee him enough so that it’s fair, but yet it gives you some wiggle room under the cap to be able to do some things and add football players. You don’t want 35, 40 percent of your cap in a certain year going to one player. It puts you in a bind and it starts to tear down the football team.”
“You’ve invested all this time in him,” he went on to say. “Why would you not continue to have him be your guy?”