Count the Buffalo Bills as one team able to accomplish something the Redskins could not this summer: Agree to a long-term contract with their quarterback. Friday's news that the Bills signed Tyrod Taylor to a six-year contract worth roughly $90 million will undoubtedly be looked at in the halls of Redskins Park.
The situations surrounding Taylor and Cousins are different. The Redskins QB entered the 2016 offseason without a contract before Washington placed the franchise tag on him, whereas Taylor had one-year left on a deal that would have paid him $1 million for the 2016 season, the lowest salary of any starting passer in the NFL. Taylor and the Bills agreed to a contract extension, not a new deal. But after the contractual differences, the circumstances are fairly similar.
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After spending four seasons as a backup in Baltimore, Taylor took over the starting role for the 2015 season in Buffalo - he missed two games with injury - and led the team to a 7-6 record. The former Hokie completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for more than 3,000 yards to go with 20 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions. He also ran for 568 yards and another four TDs.
Cousins - in his first chance as the undisputed starter - passed for 4,166 yards, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes to go with 29 TDs and 11 INTs. Cousins broke numerous Redskins passing records as he led his team to the NFC East title with a 9-7 record.
While the playing styles are much different - Cousins relies on quick reads from the pocket, Taylor is mobile and makes plays on the run - the contract is very intriguing. Reports showed that the Redskins only offered $24 million in guarantees in a long-term deal for Cousins, just slightly more than his franchise tag would pay him. The guaranteed money is what matters most in all NFL contracts, and that remains unknown in Taylor's deal at this time. His contract calls for an average of $15 million per year, with incentives that could drive the price higher.
In Redskins Park, the contract could be seen a few different ways. The structure is what's most important from the team perspective, where the organization wants monetary outs shuld the QB begin to underperform.
My understanding of Tyrod Taylor's deal is its complex. So, 2016 is fully guaranteed, but after that there is a lot of prove-it in the deal.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 12, 2016
Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton signed similar deals in San Francisco and Cincinnati, respectively, where their teams could release the players without accruing a significant salary cap penalty. While that may be what NFL teams want, obviously, players certainly won't.
Truth is the Taylor deal likely means little for Cousins. What will drive Cousins contract talks next offseason - remember the Skins and Cousins cannot negotiate in season on a franchise tag - is his play on the field this year. If the quarterback repeats his performance from the second half of 2015, he will get paid with a contract comparable to the top passers in the league. If Cousins struggles, the door will be open to different types of deals, whether incentive driven or team-friendly with outs.
Throughout the contract process, Cousins has made it clear he is willing to bet on himself. Tyrod's deal does little to change that.