Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 16, 21 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.
—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 13
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 60
—NFL Draft (4/27) 70
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 206
Are the Redskins playing scared?
The Redskins appear to be afraid to make a decision regarding Kirk Cousins.
Perhaps a year ago, some degree of trepidation was justified. After three seasons of occasional, spotty play he was elevated to the starting job and after a rocky start to 2015 he played very well down the stretch. Cousins’ contract was up and the Redskins were leery about giving Cousins in the neighborhood of $20 million per year over multiple seasons. While there was plenty of talk about the Redskins wanting to make Cousins their guy for the long term, a deal never came close to getting done and he played the 2016 season on the franchise tag.
RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - It's tag day
The bottom line, in 2016 they were afraid to make a decision. Perhaps the fear had some justification but there was fear nonetheless.
Fast forward to now. Once again, it appears that the Redskins are going to end up tagging Cousins. Again, they act as though they are paralyzed by fear. They are afraid that if they sign him long term he will not perform up to his salary, drag down the franchise, and stick them with a so-so quarterback into the next decade.
They also appear to be afraid to let him go in case they are wrong about him. If he goes elsewhere and lights it up the Redskins will look bad. They will look worse if whoever they have behind center doesn’t play up to Cousins’ standards. The Redskins have let a few good players get away over the years but this would take the cake.
The thing is they are running out of time to be afraid. They must make up their minds in the next few weeks. If they are going to sign him to a long-term contract they have to do that by March 1, before Cousins gets a tag that he’s perfectly happy to play on. If they are going to trade him they have to tag him and work actively to let teams know that if they sign Cousins, they are amenable to negotiating compensation down to something less than two first-round picks.
More Redskins: Silence is golden in Cousins talks
But my sense is that they are afraid to trade him. The tag provides an easy way out, a non-decision. They can say that it gives them more time to work out a long-term deal. OK, but what can they accomplish between March 1 and July 15 that they couldn’t accomplish between January 2, when they could start negotiating with Cousins, and February 29? There will be no more evidence, no more games played, that will help the organization decide if Kirk is the guy.
He either is or he isn’t. They need to decide which one he is and proceed without fear.
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