Former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan was on a Denver radio station recently.
In case you haven’t heard, many Broncos fans are very anxious for their team to bring in Kirk Cousins to be their quarterback. They likely were looking for McCloughan, who was the GM in Washington for the first two years that Cousins was the starter, to give the QB a ringing endorsement.
They didn’t get one.
“He’s a good player,” McCloughan said on 104.3 The Fan (via Mile High Huddle). “Is he special? I don’t see special.”
For the Broncos, “good” would be an improvement. They got starts from Trevor Simeon, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch last year. All three of them had passer ratings in the low 70’s and as a group, they threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
But the issue is that Cousins is likely to command a contract that is more in the range of “special” quarterbacks. He may not get the $30 million per year free agent deal that is being talked about, but his next deal won’t be too far south of it.
McCloughan said that they were trying to help Cousins succeed.
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“We were still building a roster around him to make him special,” he said.
He said that Cousins is talented, and he works hard but he needs more to make a team successful.
“You just need to have some talent around him because you don’t want him to be throwing the ball 35-40 times to win the game,” McCloughan said.
“You want to have a running game and have a good defense, good teams. And then let him do what he does.”
But the question is, can you pay Cousins, say, $27 million per year, a salary that would be about 15 percent of this year’s salary cap, and still be able to afford to build that running game and defense? Will the team signing him be able to bring in free agents to bolster weak areas and re-sign its home-grown talent?
That is what John Elway, who calls the shots in Denver, will have to figure out. Cousins is not the only possible solution to the Broncos’ QB problem.
They have the No. 5 pick in the draft and a prime quarterback prospect is likely to be available. That would be a lower-cost option, but even highly-drafted quarterbacks don’t always work out. Elway might prefer the relative certainty of going with a more proven commodity like Cousins.
Of course, the Redskins face the same dilemma. Their attempts to lock up Cousins really haven’t gone anywhere in part because they seem to be reluctant to pay elite quarterback money to a player who is, according to the man who lobbied for Cousins to get the starting job, good but not special.
The chances are that when free agency starts up in mid-March some team will give him the big deal (assuming the Redskins don’t hit him with the $35 million franchise tag) and gamble that they can make the rest of it work. We will see if it’s the Broncos, Redskins or another team.
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Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 19, 54 days before NFL free agency starts.
—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 46
—NFL Draft (4/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 233
Things change quickly
Two years ago today, the Redskins were in the process of picking up the pieces after their 35-18 home loss to the Packers in the wild-card round of the 2015 season playoffs. How many of the 22 players who started that game for Washington are still with the team? You may be surprised to find out just how few are likely to be with the Redskins when the season opens in September.
WR DeSean Jackson—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
WR Pierre Garçon—Signed with 49ers as a free agent last year.
WR Jamison Crowder—Still with the Redskins
TE Jordan Reed—Still with the Redskins
LT Trent Williams—Still with the Redskins
LG Spencer Long—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
C Kory Lichtensteiger—Retired following the 2016 season
RG Brandon Scherff—Still with the Redskins
RT Morgan Moses—Still with the Redskins
RB Alfred Morris—Signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 2016
QB Kirk Cousins—Set to be a UFA, you know the story here
Of the 11 offensive starters, five are still with the team, one has retired, three are employed by other teams, and two are headed into free agency. The chances of either Long or Cousins returning currently hover under 50 percent, although things can change.
DE Chris Baker—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
DE Jason Hatcher—Retired following the 2015 season
NT Terrance Knighton—Signed with the Patriots following the 2015 season but was cut and he hasn’t played and subsequently retired
ILB Will Compton—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
ILB Mason Foster—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Still with the Redskins
OLB Trent Murphy—Spent 2017 in injured reserve, set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Bashaud Breeland—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Will Blackmon—Released last September, currently unsigned
S DeAngelo Hall—Set to be an unrestricted free agent, likely to retire
S Dashon Goldson—Released after 2015 season, currently unsigned
Only one starter, Ryan Kerrigan, is under contract for 2018. Of the free agents, Breeland is likely to depart and things are up in the air regarding Foster, Compton, and Murphy.
To sum it up, out of 22 starters in that game played 740 days ago, only six are certain to be with the team in 2018 while nine have either signed elsewhere, spent 2017 out of football, or have retired (10 if you count Hall).
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In case you missed it
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- Five possible Redskins free agent targets