WASHINGTON — Could Kirk Cousins be playing us all?
Even that may not be entirely fair.
Nearly a month after allowing yet another contract deadline to pass, the Redskins quarterback is heading into his second straight season on a one-year franchise-tag deal.
For all the deadlines passed without a long-term deal being reached, and all the interviews explaining why, perhaps we’ve been misreading the tea leaves all along.
In a chat which will presumably be produced into an interview, Cousins told Sal Paolantonio that, despite playing under the franchise tag, he wants to remain with the Redskins for his entire career.
Have we simply misread, or over-parsed, everything to this point? Perhaps.
Let’s review some more recent evidence.
When Cousins said he didn’t want to set other quarterbacks back by taking a below-market deal, many fans treated it as lip service, a signal that he was holding out for the highest dollar.
“There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract,” Cousins told 106.7 The Fan in January.
“And if you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you,” he said, “then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can.”
Again, when Cousins said after July’s deadline that he could “play for the Redskins for the next 10 years on one-year deals,” many greeted his words as empty talk, a sign that he just did not want to remain in Washington long term.
“I could play for the Redskins for the next 10 years on one-year deals,” Cousins told 106.7 The Fan. “It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with the Redskins and don’t want to be with this team; I just think the structure of the NFL is such that one-year deals are the best option.”
But, one could construct an alternative narrative from Cousins’ words.
It’s true. Saying he wants to play out the string with the Redskins is consistent with what he’s said already, the above comments included.
Cousins could theoretically play for the next 10 years on one-year deals and preserve the QB market for others, because the two are one in the same.
Maximizing leverage by sacrificing long-term stability is somewhat inventive thinking in modern professional sports, but it’s not unlike what LeBron James is doing in the NBA with the Cavs.
After 2017, Cousins will have earned approx. $43.89 million over two seasons — that’s maximizing leverage.
Perhaps we’ve all just… missed the mark.