Be careful if you are walking around Indianapolis or Ashburn today. There’s a lot of smoke floating around in those places. And some of it smells pretty strange.
In short order, national NFL reporters came out with reports on the Redskins and their two quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. Let’s go through them one by one. And, again, be careful. Secondhand smoke can be hazardous to your well being as a Redskins fan.
The Redskins have decided to tag Cousins with either the transition or franchise designation—This has long been assumed to be the case, with the franchise tag being the overwhelming favorite. In fact, the transition tag hasn’t come up except with some media speculation. But this report was one more bit of confirmation that the Redskins were not going to let Cousins hit unfettered free agency.
No decision on a tag has been made—Our corporate cousins at Pro Football Talk then countered with a report that the Redskins have not yet decided to tag Cousins and that, indeed, they are currently leaning towards letting him go into free agency without a tag. This would be a very risky strategy as they would lose any control over the situation and could lose their quarterback without compensation. It also would be almost unprecedented; as rare as competent quarterbacks are, QB’s who started 16 games the previous year are almost never allowed to go into free agency.
The Redskins could tag Cousins and then trade him—This one kind of came out of the blue from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. I suppose that it’s possible that they could trade him if they got an offer they couldn’t refuse, one that included either a suitable quarterback or the means to get one. But that seems very unlikely.
Two teams are interested in trading for RG3—The Redskins have reportedly been holding on to Griffin in order to try to swing a trade for him. I can buy a couple of teams being interested in him—as noted, there is a shortage of competent quarterbacks out there. But to do a deal, Griffin would have to agree to negotiate a new contract that would considerably lower his $16.1 million salary. And he has absolutely no reason to do that. His interests would be best served by getting released by the Redskins and going out and finding his best deal and his best situation.
It appears that the Redskins are trying to send some messages here. It has been reported that Cousins would be perfectly happy with the guaranteed $19.6 million salary that would come with the franchise tag. The team wants to make it clear that the tag is not their only way to go and that some of the other options would not be a lucrative for Cousins. They would like to get him to agree to a long-term deal before the deadline to apply the tag. A new contract likely would give them more salary cap room to work with when free agency starts on March 9.
As far as the Griffin report, I think that this is the team trying to quiet talk that they should just let Griffin go immediately. If this is true, it justifies their strategy of trying to get something for Griffin, even though it remains very much a long shot.
Again, this is just some smoke floating around without any fire. It is still very likely that when 4 p.m. on March 1 rolls around Cousins will have been franchise tagged by the Redskins and that sometime on or near the March 9 start of free agency Griffin will be released.
In the meantime, be sure that smoke doesn’t get in your eyes.