We need to slow the roll on Kirk Cousins’ contract for 2016 and beyond.
Former Redskins cornerback (and sometimes Comcast SportsNet analyst) Shawn Springs suggested that the team needs to sign him to an extension during the bye week in early November. Former Redskins GM Charley Casserly said on NFL Network this week that the Redskins will need to consider slapping the franchise tag on Cousins next spring.
“You play well, the Redskins have to franchise you at close to $20 million for next year,” said Casserly via Scott Allen of the DC Sports Bog. “They can’t let him become a free agent if he plays well. There’s eight to nine teams that would be knocking on the door. Mr. Cousins right now is playing for $16-$20 million a year, and he’s ahead in that race because he’s had two good games and the Redskins have no other options.”
The franchise tag will pay about $18.5 million for a quarterback for one year. Even given the fact that even mediocre quarterbacks make a ton of money in the NFL, that is a lot to pay for a quarterback who is still upside down in his career touchdown (20) to interception (21) ratio and who has started and finished two games that the Redskins have won in his four years in the league.
He could well prove to be worth a nice contract even if the Redskins continue their very early season pattern of winning one and losing one. If he chugs along with a passer rating in the 90’s and can get a fairly positive TD to INT ratio, I’d look to fellow 2012 draft pick Nick Foles for a model for a deal with him. After trading for him the Rams signed him to a two-year extension worth $24.5 million with $13.7 million in guarantees. The value of the contract is inflated somewhat by a 2017 salary of $10.75 million that is not guaranteed. It really boils down to two years and about $13 million. It’s a prove-it deal and the idea is that he can cash in with one of those nine-figure deals if he is a consistent performer over the next two years.
Something similar might work for Cousins if he plays well enough for the Redskins to want him to be their starter. While there are plenty of teams in need of quarterbacks, not many of them are going to be waving $15-$20 million per year deals at him. And quarterbacks tend to like to stay where they are, in the system and environment that brought them success.
This doesn’t mean that the Redskins will be able to keep Cousins with a lowball offer. But unless he has some unexpected success and leads the team on a playoff run they should be able to keep him for less than the $18.5 million franchise tag and probably for less than $10 million per year.