Kirk Cousins

Quick Links

The Redskins made a big mistake with Kirk Cousins, but it's not what you think

The Redskins made a big mistake with Kirk Cousins, but it's not what you think

Kirk Cousins broke numerous Redskins passing records in three seasons as the starting quarterback. He stabilized the most important position on the field in a way that hadn't happened for more than 20 years. 

And now Cousins will play for another team.

For two straight offseasons, in 2016 and 2017, the Washington front office proved unable to get a long-term contract done with Cousins. This offseason, the team moved forward, acquiring Alex Smith from Kansas City and setting the scene for Cousins to walk in free agency.

For some fans, the biggest Redskins error came in not locking Cousins to the team for a multi-year deal. 

That's the overly simplisitc view. 

Sure, Washington messed up by not getting a deal done in 2016. Reports show Cousins wanted $19 million per season then, which would look like a bargain now. But at the time, Cousins was hardly a proven commodity. He played very well to finish the 2015 season, but that was a four-game stretch after an up-and-down 12 game start. 

MORE REDSKINS: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0 

Cousins has since proved unequivocally he was a top half of the league NFL starter, and maybe Top 10.  But before the 2016 season, plenty of folks around the NFL weren't so sure. 

It was certainly a mistake, and it looks much worse in hindsight, but not egregious at the time.

By the 2017 offseason, Cousins made it clear he wasn't signing long-term in Washington. And that's when the mistakes got egregious. 

Rather than waiting out the entire negotiating period before issuing an odd proclamation that Cousins would not negotiate with the team, which was true, the Redskins should have proactively tried to trade their QB last year. 

Cousins had value on the trade market in 2015. He had more value on the trade market in 2016. 

He ABSOLUTELY had value on the trade market in 2017.

Washington will now likely get a compensatory third-round pick in 2019 when Cousins signs with a new team. Roughly the 97th pick. The Redskins could have done much better than that if they traded Cousins last season, when both sides knew the awkward, forced marriage was likely to dissolve one year later. 

Fans can berate the Redskins about not getting a long-term deal done with Cousins in 2016, but things weren't as certain then as they're made to be now. 

If there's one thing to be mad about, it's the lack of compensation for Cousins' departure. 

Stop debating if Kirk deserves the cash. That's irrelevant now. The machine is in motion, and it won't be stopped. 

In all likelihood, about a week from now Kirk Cousins will sign the richest NFL contract in history. Clearly, the marketplace values his skillset. 

The Redskins didn't. What could have netted the organization a bevy of draft picks will result in much less. That's where the team missed the mark. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Jacksonville is out, so who's still in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes?

Jacksonville is out, so who's still in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes?

Jacksonville locked up their quarterback situation during the weekend, agreeing to a three-year contract extension with Blake Bortles worth more than $50 million. 

That means one less team competing for Kirk Cousins when he likely hits free agency in March. 

With the Jaguars out of the picture, what teams are left to pursue Cousins? Let's take a look at the revamped QB market with some analysis below:

  • New York Jets - Oddsmakers have installed the Jets as the heavy favorite to land Cousins. Reports out of New York have made clear that the team intends to pursue Cousins, and the Jets have more than $70 million in salary cap space to spend this offseason. New York can afford Cousins and has a need for a QB. The Jets also pick 6th in the NFL Draft, which does mean drafting a new franchise QB remains an option. Status: Favorite
  • Cleveland Browns - The Browns have a ton of cap space, more than $100 million, and certainly a need at QB. Cleveland also has the Nos. 1 and 4 pick in the draft, so should new GM John Dorsey decide to draft a passer, the opportunity will be there. The Browns could pay Cousins more than any other team, but also need to completely rebuild their roster. Does spending $30 million or more on Cousins make sense for a team that has won one game in the last two years? Maybe, but it would also likely mean former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan has a change of heart. McCloughan is working with the Browns front office now, and has said repeatedly that a team should not overpay for Cousins. Status: Somewhat possible
  • Minnesota Vikings - If the Vikings decide to open up their wallet, Cousins should absolutely listen to the offer. Minnesota has one of the best defenses in the NFL and made the NFC Championship Game in 2017. The Vikings are good, have a ton of weapons on offense, and would be a great fit for Cousins. The problem here is the Vikings first have to decide what to do with Case Keenum, who played at a high level for in Minnesota last season (update: Ian Rapoport says the team intends to let Keenum walk and won't tag him). The Vikings also have a decision to make with former QB Teddy Bridgewater. Minnesota should be Cousins' first choice, but it's not clear if Cousins will be the Vikings first choice. Status: Somewhat possible
  • Denver Broncos - Plenty of people want to establish the Broncos as the favorite landing spot for Kirk Cousins. Until Denver makes some moves to clear salary cap space, they aren't. Right now, Denver has about $25 million to spend for the 2018 offseason. Maybe Cousins will take a slight discount to land with John Elway in Denver, but it won't be significant enough for the Broncos to pay him and other free agents without making some major cap space. Also, don't forget the Broncos hold the 5th pick in the NFL Draft. Elway might have his eye on a potential rookie star like Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield, a pair of young passers that would count far less on the salary cap than Cousins. Status: Possible, but need to make cap space
  • Arizona Cardinals - Similar to the Broncos, Arizona makes sense for Cousins until you look at the books. The Cardinals actually have less money available under the cap than the Broncos do. The team could always clear space, and with the 15th pick, it seems unlikely Steve Keim and the Cards brass are counting on one of the top rookie QBs in the draft. Status: Possible, but need to make cap space
  • Buffalo Bills - The Bills want better QB play than they've been getting from Tyrod Taylor. That became clear in 2017 when they benched Taylor for Nathan Peterman, who was terrible.  What makes this hard to figure out is Taylor is still under contract in 2018, and at a reasonable $11 million salary. Taylor guided the Bills to the playoffs in 2017. Would Buffalo be better off paying Cousins $30 million than it is paying Taylor a third of that? Those are decisions for the Bills brass. Buffalo also has two 1st-round draft picks, the 21st and 22nd picks, and could be looking to make a move in the draft to acquire a rookie passer. Status: Somewhat possible
  • Miami Dolphins - They might need better QB play in South Beach, but the Dolphins have no cap space. Could Miami dump Ndamukong Suh ($26M) and Ryan Tannehill ($19M) to free up cash? Sure. Plus trading away Jarvis Landry ($16M)? Sure. But that's a lot of moves to be made. Status: Longshot 
  • New York Giants - Eli Manning is 37 years old and will cost $22 million in 2018. That's not a good equation. New Giants GM Dave Gettleman seems committed to Manning at least for 2018, and New York has the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 Draft. Big Blue can draft a new franchise passer should they choose to. This just doesn't make sense. Status: Very longshot

The Redskins decided to move on from Cousins and traded for Alex Smith. Reports of Washington's contract extension with Smith seem like good value for both sides. Smith will get guaranteed money of at least $50 million and Washington gets a Top 10 QB for less than $25 million per season. 

Jacksonville's decision to extend Bortles leaves some interesting questions. Since becoming a starter in 2015, Cousins has been undeniably better than Bortles. It's also obvious than Cousins will cost much more than Bortles on the free agent market. Maybe Jacksonville decided the team would be better off with Bortles at $20 million per year than Cousins at $30 million year.

If that's the case, and it seems like it was in D.C., might other teams think the same thing?

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

kirk-cousins-gfx-usat.png
USA TODAY Sports

As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!