Kirk Cousins

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Jay Gruden believes Redskins 'without a doubt' improved after adding Alex Smith

Jay Gruden believes Redskins 'without a doubt' improved after adding Alex Smith

Jay Gruden didn't want to compare his former quarterback to his new one, until he did.

When asked by reporters during breakfast at the owners meetings if the Redskins were a better team now after trading for Alex Smith, Gruden was pretty honest with his response.

"Yeah, without a doubt," Gruden said to a group of media members at the annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. "I don't want to compare two players, but we're always trying to be better at every position. We got better. Alex's experience is well-noted, and his record the last five years is what it is. You could argue that all day, but we feel very good."

It's not the fact that he's praising Smith that stood out. That's expected after such a high profile move for such an important position.

It was the fact that Gruden phrased it so definitively when comparing Smith to Kirk Cousins.

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The Redskins let Cousins go in free agency after they traded a third-round pick and corner Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs for Smith, after a never-ending "will he or won't he sign long-term" roller coaster that started in 2015.

Yes, this will always be a topic that runs the risk of being read into a little more than it should.

Any quote from Gruden involving his former quarterback will be looked at from more angles than are likely necessary, but it comes with the territory.

Gruden and the Redskins are quick to point out Smith's success in Kansas City -- the Chiefs were 50-26 with him as the starter -- but he's also just 2-5 in the playoffs.

Smith's now former coach Andy Reid had a similar sentiment at the NFL's annual coach's breakfast as well.

“He has had a lot of different coordinators, so he has experienced a lot of different offenses,” Reid said of Smith to reporters. “I think there is still room to grow, and he’s wired that way to where he wants to get better every day and you love that part of him.”

Whether fans want to admit it or not, the comparisons between Smith and Cousins will only continue.

In the end though, if Smith can bring sustained success to Washington, success that includes playoff wins, the phrase "Kirk Cousins' contract" will fade farther and farther into the mist of Redskins' history. 

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Report: Kirk Cousins to sign unprecedented new contract with Vikings

Report: Kirk Cousins to sign unprecedented new contract with Vikings

Kirk Cousins broke nearly every unwritten rule of NFL contracts on Tuesday by reportedly agreeing to a three-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Minnesota Vikings. 

No NFL multi-year contract has ever been fully guaranteed, and now the first time it happens will be for the former Redskins starting quarterback. 

Let that sink in.

The details show Cousins will make at least $84 million in the next three seasons playing with Minnesota. He will join a team that made the NFC Championship in in 2017 with Case Keenum at QB and expectations will be for Cousins to get the Vikings over the hump and into the Super Bowl next year. 

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In the last three seasons as Redskins starter, Cousins threw for at least 4,000 yards each season and broke numerous Washington passing records. With Cousins at the helm, the Redskins won nine games and the NFC East title in 2015 before a blowout playoff loss to the Packers. In 2016 and 2017, the Redskins regressed, winning eight and seven games, respectively. 

Few contract situations have gone as poorly as the way things unfolded between Cousins and the Redskins. 

After the 2015 season when Cousins popped up as a viable starter with a strong finish to the season, the organization low-balled their passer in 2016 contract talks. Things never really moved from there, and the Redskins used a $20 million franchise tag on Cousins. 

In 2017 contract talks, Cousins made clear he wasn't going to negotiate long-term with Washington, and the club again used a franchise tag. This time for $24 million. 

By the 2018 offseason, it seemed obvious all parties were moving on. That became clear when the Redskins traded for Alex Smith the week before the Super Bowl. 

Now, Cousins will be a Viking, and in the process, has dramatically changed the NFL.

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Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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The Redskins made a big mistake with Kirk Cousins, but it's not what you think

The Redskins made a big mistake with Kirk Cousins, but it's not what you think

Kirk Cousins broke numerous Redskins passing records in three seasons as the starting quarterback. He stabilized the most important position on the field in a way that hadn't happened for more than 20 years. 

And now Cousins will play for another team.

For two straight offseasons, in 2016 and 2017, the Washington front office proved unable to get a long-term contract done with Cousins. This offseason, the team moved forward, acquiring Alex Smith from Kansas City and setting the scene for Cousins to walk in free agency.

For some fans, the biggest Redskins error came in not locking Cousins to the team for a multi-year deal. 

That's the overly simplisitc view. 

Sure, Washington messed up by not getting a deal done in 2016. Reports show Cousins wanted $19 million per season then, which would look like a bargain now. But at the time, Cousins was hardly a proven commodity. He played very well to finish the 2015 season, but that was a four-game stretch after an up-and-down 12 game start. 

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Cousins has since proved unequivocally he was a top half of the league NFL starter, and maybe Top 10.  But before the 2016 season, plenty of folks around the NFL weren't so sure. 

It was certainly a mistake, and it looks much worse in hindsight, but not egregious at the time.

By the 2017 offseason, Cousins made it clear he wasn't signing long-term in Washington. And that's when the mistakes got egregious. 

Rather than waiting out the entire negotiating period before issuing an odd proclamation that Cousins would not negotiate with the team, which was true, the Redskins should have proactively tried to trade their QB last year. 

Cousins had value on the trade market in 2015. He had more value on the trade market in 2016. 

He ABSOLUTELY had value on the trade market in 2017.

Washington will now likely get a compensatory third-round pick in 2019 when Cousins signs with a new team. Roughly the 97th pick. The Redskins could have done much better than that if they traded Cousins last season, when both sides knew the awkward, forced marriage was likely to dissolve one year later. 

Fans can berate the Redskins about not getting a long-term deal done with Cousins in 2016, but things weren't as certain then as they're made to be now. 

If there's one thing to be mad about, it's the lack of compensation for Cousins' departure. 

Stop debating if Kirk deserves the cash. That's irrelevant now. The machine is in motion, and it won't be stopped. 

In all likelihood, about a week from now Kirk Cousins will sign the richest NFL contract in history. Clearly, the marketplace values his skillset. 

The Redskins didn't. What could have netted the organization a bevy of draft picks will result in much less. That's where the team missed the mark. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!