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Redskins 'no-brainer' RG3 option decision a product of QB supply and demand

Redskins 'no-brainer' RG3 option decision a product of QB supply and demand

Even though many saw some upside and some downside in the Redskins’ decision to exercise the 2016 option in the contract of quarterback Robert Griffin III, team president Bruce Allen though it was an easy call to make.

Well we think Robert is our starting quarterback,” Allen said on Monday. “We’ve seen him win. We’ve seen him win big games. We know his talent. It really was a no-brainer.”

The main concern about the option is that it becomes guaranteed should Griffin get injured and unable to play in 2016. With a medical record that includes two torn ACL’s (one in college, one at the end of his rookie year) and a dislocated ankle that caused him to miss six games last year the injury factor is a legitimate concern. But Allen looks at it as a cost of doing business.

There’s a cost to everyone who gets hurt,” he said. “I don’t see that as an individual player thing. Any injury is going to cost you on the salary cap.”

Of perhaps greater concern than the injury problems is the fact that a healthy Griffin was benched in favor of Colt McCoy in late November. His inconsistent performance since his stellar rookie 2012 season casts doubt on whether or not Griffin will be worth the $16.6 million salary that comes with the option.

But the thing is that paying large salaries to quarterbacks with spotty records is the way the NFL does business. The Panthers have gone 30-31-1 in Cam Newton’s 62 regular season starts and 1-2 in the playoffs. The former No. 1 overall pick has completed less than 60 percent of his passes and has a pedestrian QB rating of 85.4. Despite that, Newton and the Panthers are close to agreeing on a contract extension that would keep the quarterback in Carolina through 2020 and pay him something north of $20 million per year.

It should be noted that Newton has generally improved his performance from year to year and he has rushed for 2,571 yards in his career (643 yards/season). He has a chance to be very good. But the $20 million per year mark used to be reserved for quarterbacks who have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Now it looks like Newton will join Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins as .500 quarterbacks with deals that pay nearly $20 million per year (Tannehill’s recently signed extension pays him $19.25 million per year).

Perhaps one year at $16.6 million for Griffin isn’t a bargain compared to the deals signed by Newton and Tannehill but if he shows even modest improvement it would not be an outrageous salary for the team to pay.

It’s a matter of supply and demand. Top-notch quarterbacks are in very short supply and it’s tough to even find one who can be consistently competent. When the demand exceeds the supply, costs go up.

The owners and GM’s who are handing out these deals will, like Allen, say it’s the cost of doing business. But there may be as much fear as business acumen involved in these deals, as Kevin Clark, NFL writer for the Wall Street Journal tweeted after Newton’s contract numbers came out.

The Redskins may not be very happy with Griffin’s play over the last couple of years. But one of the few things worse than putting up with inconsistent quarterback play is trying to find and develop a new one. They have a lot invested in Griffin, both in terms of the draft picks it took to get him and the time they have taken to try to turn him into a dependable NFL quarterback. Despite his struggles it looks like they think it is too early to start looking again. There is some legitimate fear of going down that path again.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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

In case you missed it

 

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.