The Redskins have handed out a lot of cash in the last two weeks. On April 22 Josh Norman got $75 million over five years as a free agent. The ink is still drying on the five-year, $50 million extension that Jordan Reed signed on Thursday.
Those are some important pieces of the puzzle for the Redskins going forward. But the one big puzzle piece that is not yet signed. Kirk Cousins is still slated to work off of his franchise tag. He will make a hefty salary of $19.95 million but it’s for one year only. He would like to get the security of a long-term deal while the Redskins would like to have the most important position on the field settled for the future.
According to reports, one of the factors that is holding up an agreement is the Redskins’ desire to see more than just one good season as a starter out of Cousins. At the end of the 2014 season he was buried on the bench after being unable to shake turnover problems and he spent the 2015 offseason as the backup to Robert Griffin III. But Cousins was elevated to the starting job in late August and, after a slow start, he had a stellar season, breaking some of the team’s major passing records.
So the organization reportedly wants to make sure that Cousins is not a one-year wonder before committing to a big contract. That’s understandable but wait a minute . . .
Let’s take a look at the book on Norman’s career. The first two and a half years of his career he spent time as either a shaky starter or on the bench. He made it as a full-time starter in the second half of the 2014 season and then achieved All-Pro status last year. So that’s a good year and a half from him.
As for Reed, he showed promise from the beginning but injuries got in the way. He missed 12 games in his first two seasons with a concussion and with knee and hamstring injuries. The 2013 third-round pick of the Redskins broke out last year, leading the team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. The Redskins could have had him play out 2016 on the final year of his rookie contract but they negotiated a deal that will keep him with the Redskins through the 2021 season.
To recap, the Redskins have given big money to Norman, who has been a full-time starter for a year and a half and an All-Pro for one season and to Reed, who has one big money type of season on his resume. So tell me again why they won’t give Cousins a franchise quarterback deal?
It’s not really that simple. For one thing, we know that the Redskins have the ability to get out of the Norman deal after just two seasons with just $9 million in dead salary cap to deal with. We haven’t seen the details of Reed’s details but it likely has a similar structure.
If the Redskins could get Cousins to agree to a deal that they could end after two years with minimal salary cap pain they probably would do it tomorrow. But Cousins and his agent are angling for something that will lock the quarterback in for longer, at least three and probably four years.
Since they are going to have to commit more money for longer term to Cousins the Redskins are going to be more cautious and want more of a track record before locking him up.
This would make it difficult for the Redskins and Cousins to come to an agreement before the July 15 deadline since he’s not going to play in any football games until now and then. It is possible that the sides will both give some ground and they will come to a compromise deal. But for now, Cousins’ relatively short track record and potential for serious cap damage is making the Redskins tread more cautiously than they did with Norman and Reed.