It appears that the Redskins may have to move on from Kirk Cousins, who has been their starting quarterback for the last three years. The team may not be willing to pay what it will take to keep him in Washington and even if they wanted to pay Cousins, the quarterback may prefer to have his paychecks coming from a different organization.

This development should not be a surprise for the Redskins. They have known that it could happen ever since at least early 2016 when they put the franchise tag on Cousins rather than working out a long-term contract with him.

In fact, the Redskins have been facing quarterback instability for longer than that. When Jay Gruden came in as head coach in 2015, it was apparent that Robert Griffin III was not going to be the answer. That year Griffin shared the job with Cousins and Colt McCoy. Cousins was not efficient as the team lost all four games that he started and finished before being benched at halftime. McCoy took over for Cousins but he went out with a neck injury after three starts.


Going into the 2015 draft, the Redskins had all three of their quarterbacks under contract for just one more season. They made 10 picks but they took no quarterbacks.

When the 2016 draft rolled around Griffin was gone, Cousins had signed his franchise tag tender, and McCoy had signed a three-year contract extension.  They had seven picks and from the third round out they bypassed Jacoby Brissett, Dak Prescott, and Cardale Jones and waited until the sixth round to take Nate Sudfeld, a project out of Indiana.


Last year, Cousins again was on the tag and McCoy was still under contract. They obviously were not highly impressed with what they had seen out of Sudfeld in practice the previous year as they cut him at the end of camp. They had 10 picks in the draft and they did not take a quarterback.

After they let Sudfeld go he immediately signed with the Eagles practice squad. The Redskins did not pick up a third quarterback—perhaps a guy like Case Keenum, who was cheap and available during March—to develop on the 53-man roster. They sort of made an effort to have a third QB on the practice squad. They had Alek Torgersen out of Penn on the practice squad for the first month of the season. After they let him go they signed Joel Stave from Wisconsin, who had been with three teams as an undrafted rookie in 2016. Stave was released two weeks after signing.

For the last 10 weeks of the season, the Redskins opted not to have a young quarterback in the meeting room, helping with the scout team, and soaking up as much knowledge about the NFL in general and about the Redskins offense in particular.

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.

All of this lack of any succession planning at quarterback has left the Redskins in an unenviable spot. If Cousins leaves, the only quarterback with experience in Gruden’s offense is McCoy. He has played in just two games in the past three years, both times in mop-up work. They signed former Miami Hurricanes QB Stephen Morris to a futures contract but he has had only brief stints on the 53-man rosters of three different teams in four years. Per CBA rules, he won’t be able to get any teaching about the offense until the offseason program starts in mid-April.

In short, despite having a shaky situation at the most important position on the field, the Redskins have gone through three drafts and three free agent signing periods without adding anything remotely resembling insurance at quarterback. That may force them to use the franchise tag and pay a lot more than they want to in order to keep Cousins around.

Or they will have to start over with only McCoy on the roster. He can be effective in short stretches but he carries legitimate questions about his durability.

This is what you get when you kick the can down the road as the Redskins have. You either end up with bad choices or the cost of keeping the status quo skyrockets.