Redskins Insider JP Finlay and the Redskins Talk Podcast crew joined our Racing Presidents Podcast for a topical crossover debate involving two of the most polarizing free agents in D.C. sports history: Kirk Cousins and Bryce Harper.
Click play in the embedded podcast player below to listen to the entire podcast.
Don't let recency bias get in the way.
The Kirk Cousins contract saga was way more annoying than the Bryce Harper contract saga.
As reports on Harper's free agency continue to drag on, the question circulated over the weekend about which high-profile contract process bugged D.C. fans more when 106.7 the Fan program director Chris Kinard posted this Twitter poll.
There are a number of reasons why the Cousins situation was way more annoying, and to make sure people remember correctly, below is the full annoying-scale breakdown.
This is a huge factor. Harper is one of the best players in baseball. He's only 26 years old and is already a six-time All-Star. He won the NL MVP at 22. In all likelihood, Harper will be land in Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame when his career ends. With his numbers, it's almost a lock.
Cousins is a pretty good quarterback. He has flashes of brilliance. Then he has flashes of this.
Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen trying to get on the same page after scoring only 3 points in the 1st half. pic.twitter.com/JVx65GeWRB— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 30, 2018
From a talent perspective, one of these guys belongs in the conversation of record-breaking contracts. With his combination of power hitting and marketability, Harper should be the most highly anticipated free agency decision in the history of baseball. Cousins was more the beneficiary of a free agent system that rarely sees quarterbacks hit the open market. Good for him though.
Cousins and the Redskins danced around a contract for three years.
It began in 2016, following a strong finish to the 2015 season, when Cousins was slated for free agency. The 'Skins lowballed Cousins, and he decided just to play out the season on the franchise tag. By 2017, Cousins was done with Washington, choosing not to negotiate a long-term deal and again play on the tag. By 2018, both sides knew the situation was broken, and Washington traded for Alex Smith and let Cousins walk in free agency. It took three years, and arguably more time, energy and pixels than any other contractual debate in D.C. sports history.
The Harper contract situation has largely been a slow burn. Almost since he entered the league Nationals fans knew an eventual free agent showdown was coming, particularly with Harper represented by Scott Boras. Sure, there was the boyhood love of the Yankees further clouding things. But Harper handled things well, refusing to talk about free agency last season and letting it all unfold this offseason. The last few months of Harper updates and news, real and fake, has been annoying, but nothing touches the three years of time lost for 'Skins fans dealing with the Redskins clumsiness with Kirk Cousins.
Both players did some annoying stuff during their contract saga. Harper has been mysterious and a little weird with tweets and social media posts as fans of teams from coast to coast wait to hear where he will sign. And it's certainly annoying he has waited well into Spring Training before picking a team.
Cousins, however, was worse because he repeatedly said he wanted to stay in Washington. At various points in the three-year melodrama, that was probably true, but by the end, it certainly wasn't. After his final game with the Redskins, after repeatedly not answering questions about his future with the media, Cousins did a long radio interview with 106.7 the Fan. It was more than an interview, it was an appearance with a live studio audience at a Virginia concert venue. It was as close to a spectacle as a Kirk Cousins event can be. While there, thousands of dollars were raised for charity, so it did some good, but Cousins seemed disingenuous at parts of the conversation, saying that he would love to be back with the Burgundy and Gold.
Both players were annoying in their slow departures from Washington, but at least Bryce never pretended he wanted to come back. All along, Harper said he loves DC but has also made it clear he wanted a massive contract. It never felt quite as honest with Kirk.
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