One of the reasons that many advocated for the Redskins to get a long-term deal done with Kirk Cousins before last Friday’s deadline is that they will have to pay up eventually.
With supply and demand pushing quarterback contracts higher and higher, almost regardless of performance, the Redskins surely would have saved money by getting something done right now.
But another way to save money, a lot of money, is to draft another quarterback and have a starter who is playing on his rookie contract.
That could be Scot McCloughan’s plan, or at least his Plan B, according to Mike Florio, who penned the following during his fill-in stint writing the Monday Morning Quarterback column:
The team believes that, by 2017 or 2018, it will have found a quarterback on a slotted, low-money rookie four-year deal who can do what Cousins does, or close to it. That could be 2016 rookie sixth-rounder Nate Sudfeld, or it could be someone else. Regardless, Washington believes that someone younger, cheaper, and just as good if not better can be found, if Cousins still insists after 2016 or 2017 on breaking the bank.
This jibes with the thinking of many critics of Cousins out there who believe that he is no more than a system quarterback, that many players could do what he did executing the short passes that are the staple of Jay Gruden’s offense.
After all when Gruden was the offensive coordinator of the Bengals they made the playoffs three straight years with second-round pick Andy Dalton under center. Dalton was able to parlay those accomplishments into a nice, but very team-friendly contract.
So why should McCloughan pay in excess of $20 million per year because of quarterback supply and demand if he believes that the supply of quarterbacks who can be successful in his coach’s system is greater than the demand for them?
Well, for one thing it creates a series of short-term solutions at a position that historically favors players who last over the long haul. Let’s say Sudfeld is the guy they are going to use to replace Cousins and the target is to have him ready in 2018.
By then Sudfeld will be two years into his rookie contract and he will have two years left. If he is successful the Redskins will have to either have to pay up or start the cycle again and find another quarterback. Maybe they can pull it off but it would fly in the face of recent NFL history.
And the Redskins have a lot of work to do to before they can win with a pedestrian quarterback. Those Bengals teams that won with Dalton never had a defense that ranked outside of the top 12 in points against and had a strong running game. As of now, the Redskins have neither.
This seems like a leak from the Redskins organization to send a message that the Redskins to believe they have alternatives to Cousins, that they don’t have to be held hostage to whatever he might demand in a contract next year or, if he is tagged again in 2017, in 2018.
If you don’t want to get taken to the cleaners in a negotiation you need to have alternatives. This is letting Cousins’ camp know that they are willing to go in another direction if they have to.
Now, saying you’re willing to put someone else behind center and actually having someone who is capable of handling the position are two different things. They may reach a true drop-dead deadline with Cousins and not have a superior or even an acceptable alternative to him and end up having to hand Cousins a blank check.
But that is a hypothetical that is a year or two down the road. For right now it’s a good strategy to have an alternative solution in mind if the quarterback does ask too much. And to let the other side in the coming negotiation know that you’re not afraid to use it.