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What does Kirk Cousins' late-season swoon do to his contract value?

What does Kirk Cousins' late-season swoon do to his contract value?

I wouldn’t want to play poker with Kirk Cousins.

When the pending free agent quarterback was asked on Sunday night if he wanted to return to the Redskins in 2017 he said, well, nothing.

“It’s really not my decision to make,” said Cousins. “They chose to tag me and the same is true this year, so if they don’t choose to tag me then I think that question is answered at that point, but right now the ball’s not in my court.”

The part about it not being his decision to make at this point in time is not accurate. Since the Redskins’ season ended at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday he has been free to negotiate with the team. He could sign a new contract this afternoon.

Of course, that’s not realistic. It will take time for a deal to get hammered out. But Cousins could instruct his agent to negotiate the best deal he possibly can with the Redskins and get it done prior to the March 1 deadline for teams to designate franchise players. There are risks involved in waiting that are outlined below.

And perhaps he has set the gears in motion for a new deal with Washington. Cousins has thrived in Jay Gruden’s offense and the number of teams that have systems that cater to his strengths is limited. The appeal of sticking with what has worked over starting over with a new coach in a new system at the age of 29 has to be strong.

But Cousins has no reason to tip his hand right now. By keeping a neutral public stance he leaves the impression that he’d be just as happy to stay or go. Taking that stance is straight out of Negotiations 101.

One thing that Cousins has to consider is the risk of taking steps back on the field. In 2015, when the team needed him to come on strong down the stretch he delivered. In their last five games of the season when the team had to go on a run to make the playoffs he posted a passer rating of over 100 in each game and the Redskins went 4-1. This year the team needed a similar run in the last five games and Cousins had passer ratings in the 70’s in three of those games. The Redskins lost all three and they missed the playoffs. Here is a more detailed comparison:

The difference is stark. Last year he broke most of the team’s major single-season passing records and it felt like he accomplished a lot. This year, he broke his own records but given the way he finished it feels more like he compiled empty stats.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that the Redskins shouldn’t do what they can to try to get him under contract. This is not a reason to put forth a lowball offer (again).

But Cousins needs to tread carefully. If the Redskins tag him again and his late-season passer rating hangs around the mid-80’s again and he throws one touchdown and three picks (including the final, fatal one) in two critical home games in games where they were solid favorites he may find himself with a much lower value than he has now. He could be well advised to get as much as he can now in case he suffers from another late-season swoon.

Now, it’s not like Cousins will have to settle for minimum salary if he plays on the tag in 2017 and he does stumble in crunch time in December. Given the shortage of quarterbacks in the league, his performance could drop off significantly and some team out there would be willing to sign him to a five-year deal making at least $18-$20 million per year in 2018. Perhaps he would be comfortable rejecting a deal worth, say, $22 million per year knowing that the furthest he can fall would still have him near the very top of income earners in the country. That’ a nice cushion to have.

The only member of the Redskins organization who has spoken on Cousins is head coach Jay Gruden.

“I don’t know what Kirk has to do as a quarterback to prove that he belongs in the National Football League as a starter,” he said after the Giants game. “I think he had a great year.”

Gruden, however, doesn’t write the checks. He can lobby Scot McCloughan, Bruce Allen, and Dan Snyder to get a deal done but that’s all he can do.

This is in the very early stages. But decisions need to start taking shape. That franchise tag deadline is just 57 days away and the clock is ticking.

MORE REDSKINS: Ex-agent says 'Skins doubt Cousins, which'll hurt his deal

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Two examples of why Dan Orlovsky believes Dwayne Haskins will excite Redskins fans

Two examples of why Dan Orlovsky believes Dwayne Haskins will excite Redskins fans

Scott Turner was asked about quarterback Dwayne Haskins' growth this offseason during a Zoom call with local media earlier this week, and the new Redskins offensive coordinator explained he was pleased with both Haskins' physical and mental progress.

Besides raving about the second-year quarterbacks imposing size and natural arm strength, Turner also dove into specific detail about one other thing that really stood out to him about Haskins: his ability to stand tall in the pocket and deliver a throw without much space.

Former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky took to Twitter on Friday, tweeting out two video examples from Haskins' rookie season where the quarterback demonstrated the qualities Turner raved about.

The first example was a clip from the Redskins Week 11 contest against the Jets. The play went down in the scorebook as a 24-yard completion to Kelvin Harmon, but what the quarterback had to do in order to make this play successful was quite impressive.

For this play, Orlovsky explained how Haskins identified where the pressure was coming from pre-snap, causing him to shift the entire protection to the left. After the running back missed his block, Haskins didn't panic. The then-rookie QB stepped up in the pocket and fired a dart to Harmon on the in-route as the receiver broke open in the middle of the field.

"This is one of my favorite plays by him last year," Orlovsky explained. "It really is an example of the intellectual aspect of quarterback play with the feel aspect of quarterback play."

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The second clip was from Washington's clash in Green Bay last season. On this particular snap, Haskins showed his mastery of the Packers' defense.

Haskins' initial read was to the right side, where Harmon was running an inside post route. But once the quarterback saw his first read was covered, he continued to look right, forcing Packers' safety Darnell Savage to slide in that direction. The passer then immediately turned to his backside, which created an open throwing lane to find Terry McLaurin in the middle of the field.

"It really shows a complete understanding of what the defense is, what the coverage is, and then a complete understanding of who on the defense he needs to move with his eyes to open up a window," Orlovsky said.

It's fair to mention that the Redskins would not win either of these games and that the rookie passer had his struggles in each of these contests. It's no secret that Haskins had his growing pains as a rookie, and there were examples of such in each of these matchups, too.

But Haskins did finish the season playing the best football of his young career, giving some hope for the future. Count Orlovsky in on those who are optimistic about the quarterback as he enters his second season with the team and his first as the team's true starter.

"There are so many examples on his tape that show how smart he actually is," Orlovsky said. 

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Kirk Cousins ranked ninth on Forbes' top 100 highest-paid athletes in 2020

Kirk Cousins ranked ninth on Forbes' top 100 highest-paid athletes in 2020

Former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is among the top 10 highest-paid athletes in the world in 2020, according to Forbes.

Cousins, who came in as the ninth highest-paid athlete overall, is the top-ranked NFL athlete on the list, coming in one spot above Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

Forbes estimated the Vikings QB's earnings at $60.5 million, with $58 million coming from his salary and $2.5 million from his endorsements.

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In March, Cousins signed a two-year, $66 million extension with the Vikings, one that included a $30 million signing bonus. The signal-caller originally signed with the Vikings in 2018 on a three-year, fully-guaranteed $84 million deal that at the time made him the highest-paid player in NFL history.

The Vikings signal-caller has earned over $130 million in his career thus far, according to OverTheCap.

Cousins spent the first six seasons of his career with the Redskins, with three of those years as the team's starter. The quarterback set the franchise's single-season passing yards record in 2016 when he threw for 4,917 yards for Washington. His 29 touchdown passes in 2017 were the second-most by any Redskins quarterback in a single-season.

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