WASHINGTON — Kirk Cousins has the Redskins over the barrel, so to speak, but that doesn’t come without risk on his part, Joe Theismann says.
Cousins is in the enviable position of leverage, as he can sit back and accept a franchise tag of $23.94 million, ensuring him a two-year trove of nearly $44 million. He could then restart the process a year from now, or wait to be traded. Advantage: Kirk.
“He seems to be holding the cards,” Theismann told Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “There’s two things about Kirk not signing that I think become issues going forward.
“No. 1 is heaven forbid he gets hurt. So, yes he will have banked $44 million, but the potential for another [$50-60 million] could well be in jeopardy. So that’s one.”
“Secondly, you’re gonna have every pass, every play, every game dissected to the nth degree,” Theismann noted. “And the story of every Sunday will not be the Washington Redskins, it will be Kirk Cousins. And so the potential for this thing getting really, really nasty and ugly publicly is waiting out there if in the event a deal can’t get done.”
“I’ve said this before, negotiations are both sides having to feel like both teams, both individuals, groups got what they wanted,” he said. “The Redskins have invested five years in Kirk Cousins, four years in Kirk Cousins, and he’s played the last two years and proven that he is worth a certain degree of monetary compensation. Does he deserve to be the highest paid player in this league? No.”
“I’ve said this before, I think the contract goes between $110-and-$120 million,” he said.
Theismann went on to observe the various risks Cousins faces by playing another season on the franchise tag, notably that there’s so much about the offense that could change, with the potential to alter his overall free agency value.
“I think in Kirk’s case, yeah, he does have ’em to a degree over the barrel, but he is rolling the dice to a degree when it comes to him being able to stay healthy,” Theismann said.
“Will this football team look the same as it did a year ago? Will it have the same kind of an offense under Matt Cavanaugh that it had under Sean McVay?” he said. “I mean there are questions that loom going forward for this football team.
“And how do the numbers that they have to allocate for Kirk affect the other free agents on the team as well as those that they might want to get. He is the first domino. That’s why I was thinking it was important to sign him, but you also have to look at the economics from the Redskins side of it as well.”
Another factor in play here, Cousins might be further uneasy about re-signing with Washington long-term without the assurance of Jay Gruden remaining past his contract, with Gruden now in the fourth year of a five-year guaranteed deal.
“I think Jay has started to build the foundation,” Theismann said. “Jay should get a new contract by the way, that’s my opinion. I think we need to establish some sense of continuity other than guys being here four-years-and-gone, four-years-and-gone, four-years-and-gone.
“I think that’s a very, very dangerous scenario to keep getting into because you lack continuity in every aspect of the game. We’re already going to have another defensive coordinator and another offensive coordinator, so you’ve already got major changes going on.”
“I think Jay has a real pulse on what this football team should look like, could look like and needs to look like, but you need to be prudent with the dollars,” he said. “Remember, I think the Albert Haynesworth deal should teach us all about putting a lot of money out there and how it affects the football team in years to follow.”
“Kirk’s deal, to me, is unrelated to Jay’s, because unless you have a quarterback, it’s difficult to be able to have a shot at anything in this league,” he said. “I think once you’ve established what Jay has done, you build around him and let him continue to grow with this football team.
“Remember, Scot [McCloughan’s] only been here a couple years. I mean, truly, the hierarchy as we refer to it with the Redskins has only been in place for a couple of years, which is a very short period of time when you want to build an organization going forward.”