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Picking an NFC East QB for the next three years? Choose Kirk Cousins

Picking an NFC East QB for the next three years? Choose Kirk Cousins

With apologies to Sam Bradford and the collection of Matt Cassel/Tony Romo/Kellen Moore/Brandon Weeden, the NFC East's quarterback situation dramatically improved once Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott arrived last season.

Now, along with Eli Manning and Kirk Cousins, the four quarterbacks in the division can all safely be described as solid NFL starters. But who's the one that you'd want taking snaps for you for the next three seasons?

That's a question that ESPN Eagles reporter Tim McManus asked the other three NFC East reporters a few days ago, and the three of them came to a unanimous conclusion: it's Kirk Cousins. 

Here's why that is absolutely the right call:

Cousins' age matches up nicely with the timeline of the question

As Todd Archer, Jordan Raanan and John Keim all pointed to, Eli Manning would've been the enticing choice if the period was one season, not three. But at 36, he doesn't have many more big-number efforts, or Eli Faces, left in him.


Wentz and Prescott, meanwhile, have bright futures ahead of them, but they also will run into inevitable struggles that come with younger, less developed passers in those three years. They might be the selection if the question was concerned with the next five or seven years, but they could still be a ways away from their true peak performance.  

Cousins, however, looks to be in the peak now and should stay there for the intermediate future. He threw for 4,100+ and 4,900+ yards in 2015 and 2016 and will turn 29 just before the 2017 season. His age-29, age-30 and age-31 campaigns are the ones that matter in this debate, and that's normally the sweet spot for QBs. 

There's less questions about Cousins compared to the other three

If you were to take Manning in this hypothetical, you'd have to weigh the huge question about his age. How confident would you be in him leading a team through 2019? You'd also need to wonder about his ability to recover from 2016, in which he tossed nine less scores and lost more than 400 yards from his 2015 totals.

When it comes to the two sophomore options, there's issues for both. People assume Wentz will be improved with the better supporting cast he has in Philly, but will he actually be able to take advantage? Plus, can he take better care of the football after throwing nine picks and losing two fumbles in his team's last eight contests?

As for Prescott, how capable is he of thriving when everything around him — the offensive line, his stud running back — isn't operating flawlessly? Also, can he still be a star when he's no longer a surprise to opposing defenses?

Taking his contract out of this, there's not much about Cousins that scares you. He's not the enormous turnover problem he looked like he was going to be in his earlier starts, he's shown he can still command a dangerous offense that lacks a top-notch running game and there's nothing that would suggest he'll decline anytime soon.

When picking your QB for the upcoming three years, Cousins is probably the safest bet. He also possesses a considerable amount of potential. That's a nice combination. 

He's better than you think he is

Fans of the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys will be quick to claim a bias in an outlet based in Maryland agreeing that Cousins is the answer to McManus' question. But those same fans may not realize just how good Cousins is.

This is a guy who was sixth in ESPN's QBR in 2016, fifth in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric and third in yards per pass attempt. He doesn't take many sacks, spreads the ball around to all sorts of pass catchers, is prolific when looking deep and can even scramble for yards or for six when needed. 

As a whole, the NFC East has four reputable quarterbacks. Cousins, though, is the one set up to really deliver in the next three seasons.


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Good news Redskins fans: Jason Pierre-Paul shipped out of NFC East


Good news Redskins fans: Jason Pierre-Paul shipped out of NFC East

The Giants shipped out Jason Pierre-Paul for life as a Buccaneer, and in turn, Tampa will send a third and fourth round draft pick to New York.

Moving Pierre-Paul comes at a curious time for the Giants. The team will eat $15 million of dead money in the move, and New York also sent a fourth-round pick to Tampa as part of the transaction. 

What it definitely signals is that Big Blue looks to be moving from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 look. Additionally, with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft in April, maybe the Giants will seriously look at NC State defensive lineman Bradley Chubb. 


For the Redskins, seeing Pierre-Paul leave the NFC East is welcome news. He has 12.5 career sacks against Washington QBs, the same amount he has against the Eagles and Cowboys combined. 

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Looking at the details of Zach Brown's contract with the Redskins

Looking at the details of Zach Brown's contract with the Redskins

The Redskins and linebacker Zach Brown agreed to a three-year contract that will require Brown to continue to play at a high level if he is going to collect all of the $21 million the deal contains.

Brown’s camp reportedly was shopping for a contract that had some $20 million in guaranteed money. The actual deal fell well short of that.

Brown, who was leading the league in tackles before an assortment of injuries forced him to sit out the last three games, got a total of $5.5 million in fully guaranteed money. He got a $4.5 million signing bonus and his $1 million salary for 2018 is fully guaranteed.


After that, the remaining two seasons essentially are team options. In 2019 he has a $6.75 million salary and $4.5 million of that is guaranteed for injury. His 2020 salary is $7.5 million with no guarantees of any kind.

The contract also has per-game roster bonuses available at a rate of $15,625 for each game he is on the 46-man game day roster in 2018 (total of $250,000 for the year) and $31,250 per game in 2019 and 2020 ($500,000 total).

The salary cap hits per year are as follows:

2018: $2.75 million
2019: $8.75 million
2020: $9.5 million

The average annual value of $7 million ranks ninth among inside linebackers.

Brown will need to continue to play well to collect on the contract. The team will be able to save $5.75 million on the 2019 cap if they terminate the deal after one season and $8 million if they do it in 2020.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.