His first eight seasons in the NFL, Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl and signed a $120 million contract. It was not until Flacco's ninth season, however, that the Ravens quarterback passed for more than 4,000 yards.
Named Redskins QB1 in 2015, Kirk Cousins threw for more than 4,000 yards his first full season. In 2016, Cousins nearly got to 5,000 passing yards, passing for 4,917 yards.
Despite the difference in statistics, long-time NFL personnel executive and former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly still would take Flacco over Cousins.
"Let me say this, if I’m picking Joe Flacco or [Cousins], I'm taking Joe Flacco," Casserly said Tueday on The Junkies (full video above).
The Redskins again face a huge decision with Cousins, as their passer is slated for free agency unless the organization can reach a long-term deal or deploys the franchise tag for a second straight season. Asked if he considered Cousins a Top 10 NFL quarterback, Casserly was clear.
"No. Uh uh."
Casserly went on to explain that Cousins puts up impressive stats, like more than 9,000 passing yards in two seasons as starter, but that he has not been able to win big games.
"Here's the tough thing, you got two years on him now, is this the guy? Guy put up great stats, a lot of good players around him, great stats though. The defense kept them out of the playoffs [in 2016], I'd say, not him," Casserly said. "But he ended both seasons in big games not on a good note. So is this kind of what we got? The league thinks, a lot of people in the league think, that's what he is."
The two games Casserly's referring to would be a pair of season-ending losses.
In 2015, that came at home in a playoff loss to the Packers, where Cousins completed 29 of 46 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked six times in that game, where the numbers look more impressive than the game play did.
In 2016, the season again ended with a disappointing home loss. This time the Redskins fell to the Giants. Washington needed a win to reach the playoffs, while New York had little to play for after already clinching a playoff spot. In that game, Cousins completed 22 of 35 passes for 287 yards to go with one touchdown and two interceptions. Cousins was sacked four times in that game, but the play most remember is the interception he threw late in the game when the Redskins were driving with a chance to take the lead or tie the game.
Judging Cousins by the two games against the Packers and Giants is naive, the QB needs to be considered for his entire body of work. Yet, it's obvious those two games left an impression with Casserly and elsewhere in the NFL.
What happens next for the 'Skins and their signal caller will face much scrutiny. Is Cousins worth a long-term contract that would likely go for more than $110 million if he's not considered a Top 10 passer? Or is that simply what the market dictates for a starting quarterback in the NFL?
"This is a tough one now. There's no easy answer to this one," Casserly said.
The GM of the 'Skins 1991 Super Bowl team explained that his "gut" says Washington will use the franchise tag on Cousins. A second-franchise tag brings with it some questions, especially about the long-term prospects of signing Cousins in 2018 and beyond.
For Casserly, basically another franchise tag means the team does not want to give Cousins a long-term deal.
"That's the decision," he said. "If we don’t think we can get him signed, why go through another year."
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