The Redskins and Kirk Cousins have reached a point in their contract negotiations where one side decided to take things public. While it’s generally better for that not to happen it isn’t totally unexpected and is just a part of the process.
Yesterday, citing a team source, Adam Schefter tweeted that the two sides “have broken off contract talks” and that there are “no further talks scheduled”.
That sounds like there is some big rift between the two sides but that may not be the case. In fact, both the Washington Post and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk said that they have been told that the lines of communication between the Redskins organization and Cousins’ camp are very much open.
John Keim of ESPN also wrote that Schefter is reporting that the source said that “it's not a foregone conclusion that the Redskins would use the franchise tag on Cousins”.
So what does all of this mean? Business as usual. At this point, with two weeks to go until the deadline for the Redskins to apply franchise tag to Cousins there is no reason for either the Redskins or Cousins to give much ground. And if neither side is giving any ground, what reason is there to talk? Sometimes it’s best to take a break and let the sides evaluate their positions.
The part about “no further talks schedule” sounds ominous but it’s meaningless. A meeting can be scheduled with a phone call. And Mike McCartney, who is Cousins’ agent, and the Redskins’ brass will be in Indianapolis for the combine next week. Certainly a meeting at St. Elmo’s to resume the process could be in the cards.
So why did the team leak the story that the talks had broke off to Schefter? There could be a number of reasons but to me it looks like the most important part of what game out is the part that got the least attention. They wanted to get word out that the franchise tag for Cousins is not a given despite what many of us in the media have assumed.
If Cousins’ agent is negotiating on the assumption that the tag will be applied if there is no deal by the March 1 tag deadline, that sets up the expectation that Cousins should get at least the $19.6 million fully guaranteed money that comes with the tag. If the tag is off of the table then expectations might be lower.
The threat that the Redskins might not use the tag seems to be a bluff. They aren’t going to keep Robert Griffin III for his $16.15 million salary. Colt McCoy, who is not under contract for 2016, isn’t the answer for more than a game or two. Are they really going to set themselves up to have to go quarterback shopping when free agency opens up? It seems more likely that they will do what they have to do to lock up the guy who led them to the playoffs last year even if it means that, in their perception, they will be overpaying him.