The Redskins have agreed to an extension for Jay Gruden, a deal that keeps him under contract through the 2020 season. That leaves the Redskins with one important deal done and another, perhaps more important contract yet to be done.
The still-unsettled situation is Kirk Cousins’ long-term deal. He’s under team control for 2017 under the franchise tag. Beyond that, his future in Washington is very much up in the air. But might extending Gruden help persuade Cousins to stay in Washington?
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Perhaps it will. While Cousins generally has been non-committal when asked if he would like to stay in Washington in the long term, he gave a hint as to how much he values continuity when asked about a situational football in December.
The longer we play together as a unit – and when I’m talking about we, I mean from Jay to Sean [McVay] to myself to Chris Thompson to Trent Williams to Pierre [Garçon] – the longer we play together, the more you can become situational masters and be very good in situational football like that situation at the end of the game, where we all know, ‘We’ve been here before, hey, let’s handle this the best way possible and be a mature football team.’
McVay, the offensive coordinator for the previous three seasons, is now gone, having moved up to become the head coach of the Rams. McVay was replace by former quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh, who has been Cousins’ position coach ever since he took the starting job. That’s a very smooth transition.
Wide receiver Garçon is a free agent and he may or may not return. But left tackle Williams is under contract through the 2020 season and Thompson, a restricted free agent, is likely to return. Although DeSean Jackson appears to be likely to depart, Jamison Crowder is under contract for two more years. Tight end Jordan Reed, another key weapon, is signed through 2021. While you can’t have perfect continuity in the NFL, with Gruden now under contract for four more years the Redskins are doing a pretty good job of maintaining at least some semblance of stability.
Cousins has now been with the organization for five years with three years under Gruden including two seasons as the starter. He will turn 29 during training camp. The possibility of playing into his 30’s with the same head coach in the same offense likely has some appeal to Cousins.
That being said, the Gruden extension does not ensure that Cousins will stay. The money has to be right and at last report there was a good deal of ground between the two sides in the negotiation.
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And Cousins’ camp knows that a Gruden extension doesn’t mean that the coach will be around through 2020. Paying off a couple of years of a coach’s salary isn’t much of an impediment if Dan Snyder wants to make a change in the future. The same applies to almost any NFL owner. We saw the ultimate in that last year when the Rams’ Jeff Fisher was given a contract extension that started in 2017 in the summer and then he was fired before he worked a day under it.
Then there is the lack of stability in the front office. The future of GM Scot McCloughan is very cloudy after he missed the combine for personal reasons. Where that leaves the authority in the draft, free agency, and other key roster decisions is not at all certain. It’s not exactly the atmosphere for Cousins if he craves long-term stability.
But there are no perfect situations in the NFL. Usually, when a team needs a quarterback there are plenty of other issues in the organization. The Gruden extension could be a factor that persuades Cousins to stay but it’s far from being a deal clincher.