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Are Cousins and the Redskins waiting for Osweiler to sign before getting serious?

Feb 17, 2016, 1:39 PM EDT

Brock-Osweiler

One of the reasons that the Redskins and Kirk Cousins’ camp are may be having difficulty in their contract talks is that nobody really knows what a long-term contract for Cousins should look like.

Executing contracts for free agent football players is in some ways like buying a house. To price the house, the real estate agent looks at comparables, recent sales of similar houses in similar neighborhoods. The agent will list the house somewhere around what those homes sold for.

The problem with figuring out Cousins’ worth is that there are no real comparable quarterback contracts to work with. He had sporadic appearances in his first three seasons in the league. Then he was named the starter, started off the year slowly but then caught fire (against some suspect defenses) and set some team passing records in the process of leading the team to the NFC East title.

And now his rookie contract has expired and he is set to become a free agent. Who else in this decade has gone from the bench to a record-setting, division winning, 16-game starter in the last year of his rookie contract? Nobody, really.

It doesn’t mean that Cousins’ team and the Redskins are going into the negotiations blind. Looking at average contract values per year, it’s clear that Cousins does not belong in the over $20 million neighborhood. The players in there are ones who have at least one Super Bowl ring (Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger) or have been playing at a high level for a long time (Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan).

But a deal below $15 million per year would put him in with the likes of Sam Bradford’s just expired deal and Nick Foles. That’s the low-rent district. Foles was benched and Bradford was inconsistent and injured. Their bodies of work prior to 2015 had some good moments but nothing consistently special.

So something between $15 million and $20 million per year seems right. But that’s a lot of room for negotiation when you multiply it by the four or five years a Cousins extension would probably cover.

The best thing to do here might be for the Redskins to put the tag on Cousins and to let the quarterback market play out in the spring. See what Sam Bradford gets and what kind of deal Colin Kaepernick receives if the 49ers decide to move on from him. Even the deal landed by Ryan Fitzpatrick could be useful as a guide.

A very useful guide will be Brock Osweiler’s new deal. He started seven games for the Broncos and they won five of them. His numbers were not quite as good as Cousins’ were (86 passer rating compared to 101 for Cousins) but the Broncos did beat the Patriots and Bengals with Osweiler at the helm. The Redskins and Cousins went 0-3 against teams with wining records. The deal will be a good comp.

As long as Cousins signs the tender, something that he is likely but not certain to do, it’s business as usual. Then the two sides could get together in June and, armed with more information on the quarterback market than they had before, get to work on a new deal. It’s likely that they will know about Osweiler’s deal early on since the Broncos are unlikely to tag him so he will have a contract with Denver—or with somebody—sometime in March.

Cousins and the Redskins would have until July 15 to get it done. There is plenty of downside to Cousins playing out 2016 on the tag for both the player and the Redskins that there would be plenty of motivation to get a deal done.

Determined parties plus a hard deadline is a good formula for making a deal. If those elements are present this summer a long-term deal for Cousins should result.

  1. colmac69 - Feb 17, 2016 at 4:24 PM

    For talking sake the skins/cousins agree to part ways……what direction and who with would team take if that occurred? (I fully realise cousins b starting at least nxt yr with skins but welcome anyone,s thoughts on this unlikely scenario happening)?

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 17, 2016 at 6:18 PM

      Downwards, back to the dumpster.
      ~

  2. kenlinkins - Feb 17, 2016 at 4:28 PM

    Rich: What happens if Cousins doesn’t sign the “Tender”? What do both sides gain and or lose?

    • renhoekk2 - Feb 17, 2016 at 4:40 PM

      I believe the Skins retain his rights and he would sit out and not get paid. He can’t sign for another team. The Skins lose a starting QB. If he sits out and the doesn’t sign it the Skins can revoke the offer at anytime which would make him an UFA.

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 17, 2016 at 5:23 PM

      Both sides lose. In the short term Cousins misses OTAs and the Redskins have either Colt McCoy or someone they just signed running the first team. If it drags into training camp it’s the same situation. Not until Week 1 would Cousins start to lose money to the tune of $1.1 million per week.

      I doubt that he would do that. The last QB to do it was Brees (who missed OTAs but signed in time for camp) and he was far, far more established than Cousins. I think Mike McCartney would advice Cousins to sign and get to work. But we won’t know for sure until he actually signs the tender.

      The Redskins would gain nothing. Cousins might gain some leverage showing how bad off they are without him. But, again, the lost time would more than negate that edge, IMO.

  3. renhoekk2 - Feb 17, 2016 at 4:33 PM

    If you don’t believe in him let him walk. Move on. If the idea of tagging him is a gamble then you are basically betting on him not getting better. Which is a horrible thing to hope for as an organization and sends a terrible message to Cousins. If they tag him and he succeeds it will cost even more to sign him next year and the cap ramifications you are worried about will be even worse. Baker and Reed will also be FA next year and will want to get paid big if they both have another strong season. I would not want to be sitting across from Cousins agent next off season if he has a good year. If they think he’s being unreasonable now……….

    If you do believe in him then sign him. All the money they threw at bums like Haynesworth and Archuleta and they are going to play hardball with their starting QB. Fools.

    He’s better off playing for Bill O’Brien and the Texans anyway.

    The struggled against good defenses argument….. Check out the running game stats for NYJ, CAR and NE. Not to mention what the defense gave up on the other side of the ball in those games. It’s much more accurate to say the entire team struggled against good teams, than singling out Cousins.

    • Thetruthis - Feb 17, 2016 at 5:05 PM

      Yeah, just follow what the other bad organizations have done. That is why they are always struggling. The Patriots pay AFTER you are proven. Just look at the mess they have up in Chicago with Cutler and that awful contract. This is not little league(making Cousins feel better), so bet the whole farm of the skins on Cousins. It will cost the redskins a whole lot more to lock in on a bad and risky deal for them. No one knows what Cousins is going to do next year. There are two Cousins. There were two Cousins in prior years and there certainly was two Cousins this year. One plays well and the other is a turnover machine, fumbles, int’s, inaccurate throws against really good defenses. Not much has changed really except all the redskins are ready to bet the farm on him because they are such desperatoe’s

      You people need to trust scot mccloughan to do what he does best. He is trying to build based on a long term Super Bowl winning strategy, not to go 8-8!!!

      • kenlinkins - Feb 17, 2016 at 5:36 PM

        IMO you have it correct. It is the GM’s job to know the value of everyone he is thinking about signing. In Cousins case the GM must know the market, where Cousins is today and where he will be in his development in 2017, 2018, 2019. The bottom line is what the Redskins GM believes about Cousin’s value and what he feels is in the long term best interest of the Redskins. I know I would lose some respect for the Redskins GM if he was waiting on the Osweiler deal. Besides, what if Osweiler / Denver are waiting on the Redskins / Cousins, where would that leave us?

        • Rich Tandler - Feb 18, 2016 at 5:00 AM

          Assuming the Redskins tag Cousins, they won’t have to do anything with him until July. Assuming the Broncos tag Von Miller they will have to act on Osweiler in March. The Redskins will have that knowledge.

          Having comparable signings to work with is part of knowing the value of everyone he is thinking about signing.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 17, 2016 at 6:20 PM

        The Patriots struck gold with Tom Brady in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft.

        That’s something you can be envious of. It’s not a strategy you can emulate.
        ~

        • Thetruthis - Feb 18, 2016 at 9:11 AM

          That’s not the point. The point is the Patriots did not award Tom Brady a huge long term contract BEFORE he proved he was the REAL deal. And certainly NOT before he won the big games. People, that is the ONLY test that matters. Kirks full body of work leaves a lot of doubt. As well as he played within the system at times, there were times (against better teams) he failed. The Patriots did not strike gold really with Tom Brady. They gave him a chance (like Kirk is getting) but they did not pay Brady until AFTER he won big games. Scot see’s Kirks weaknesses that Gruden was trying to hide. He is a talent evaluator. He protected San Fran with the Kaep contract exit clauses and even then, think about it, Kaep had won enough big games to go to the Super Bowl! The Redskins will be JUST fine without Kirk Cousins. Period. The fear and desperateness of many of these posters is just pitiful!!! And Kirk Cousins need to realize he certainly has NO guarantees of success if he goes to another team. In the end, its not the money that matters in the NFL, it is player and team success.

        • Trey Gregory - Feb 18, 2016 at 9:27 AM

          @Truth: that’s because Tom Brady performed BEFORE his contract was up. They’re not comparable situations. Cousins started his first full season and peaked during the last year of his contract. That wasn’t the case for Brady so you really can’t say that we should do what they did.

          I don’t understand what you expect them to do. Cousins will not take a deal around 10 mil a year for two years until he’s “proven.” He wants to maximize his value. The options are to pay him market value, tag him, or cut him lose. That’s it. No other options. And if they cut him lose there zero guarantee that they sign/draft anyone even remotely as good for the next decade. If it was that easy to find a replacement then they wouldn’t have been without a franchise QB for so long. Or give up all those picks for RG3. Guys as promising as Cousins just don’t come along that often, that’s why they want to sign him even if it’s for a little too much. It’s market value.

          And they did strike gold with Brady. Finding a HOF player in the 6th round is striking gold, especially if they’re a QB. Bellichick has admitted as much numerous times. So if you want to argue this, you’re arguing with him.

        • colmac69 - Feb 18, 2016 at 12:34 PM

          Totally agree with what you said about comparison btwn brady/cousins contract situation

          Thing that gets me on here is when posters come on and say cousins isn’t worth money…he average…..the team b better off without him…….that’s very well but they never tell us what their solution is?where or who is better around that is upgrade over cousins?free agency?last time I looked the list wasn’t up to much….draft? From what xperts say there doesn’t appear to be lot in the draft either…..do the redskins conjure up someone out of thin air

          Cousins b starting qb nxt season…of that there no doubt whatsoever….hopefully it’s on long term contract but if he gets tagged then fine and we carry on

          Some people on here just don’t live in real world

    • Trey Gregory - Feb 18, 2016 at 12:53 AM

      @ Ren: I think that was a pretty good post and I agree with a lot of what you said.

      But just to clarify something. I believe people are saying it’s risky to tag him (and his is certainly why I think) because of a couple reasons.
      First: because he will be overpaid for only one year and then we have to do these negotiations ALL over again. There’s no guarantee he comes back either. It’s unlikely that he leaves, but he could take the tag personal. Then say he has a great season and knows another team will give him a good deal. There’s simply no guarantee we can resign Cousins, even for a big contract, if we tag him.
      Second: Because if he does have a monster season then he will probably cost even more than if they sign him to what he’s asking right now (like you said, if you think he’s being unreasonable now….). It’s just better to bring stability to that position as soon as possible.

      I also don’t think he’s better off in Houston at all. One of the few pieces of leverage Washington does have is Gruden. QBs and head coaches/systems that mesh well are sometimes a hard thing to find and a risky thing to shake up. Cousins found a coach who wants him, believes in him, will stick by him even in a slump, and has a system that works for him. I also think Gruden is willing to tailor his system, a bit, to Cousins. I get your point about the run game and strength of the team, but all that will come in time for Washington. There’s no reason to think it won’t given their current trajectory under McCloughan.

      Taking everything into account: (his past seasons, limited success, and all that) I personally think it’s far more risky not to sign Cousins than to sign him. I know some disagree, and that’s fine. That’s just where I stand on it. Too much of a gamble and an unknown to let him go.

      • bangkokben - Feb 18, 2016 at 7:41 AM

        The point of tagging him is to allow the market to set before signing a long-term deal. Luck’s extension, Osweiler, Fitzpatrick, Bradford will all give BOTH sides better understanding of where Cousins value is. The Redskins will tag him and may even put the exclusive tag on him. I don’t think any team would use two number ones on anybody but if any team might Denver would be a perfect fit for Cousins and their picks will be at the bottom of the round.

        • Thetruthis - Feb 18, 2016 at 9:15 AM

          If the redskins put the exclusive tag on cousins then they are doomed. That is just a desperate and dumb move.

        • Trey Gregory - Feb 18, 2016 at 9:19 AM

          @Bang: I should have clarified that the risk would be to allow Cousins to actually play under the tag. Not to tag him in March then sign him in July. I don’t know that there’s any risk in franchising him for a couple months.

          And just to laugh at ourselves a little bit, we gave up two first round picks for a player. And now there’s serious reports that Denver is interested in RG3, not Cousins. Oh boy.

        • bangkokben - Feb 18, 2016 at 9:50 AM

          I understand about Cousins playing under the tag. The thing is Cousins may be betting on himself. With the non-exclusive tag he’ll be making 32 times more next season than he did last season. In other words, in one season he’ll make as much as he would if he played another 32 seasons – before taxes, of course. In his case, the tag will give him the lifetime security a player desires. So if he’s far from the Redskins terms, he’ll play. Of course both side would benefit from a long-term deal. Cousins would get more guaranteed money and the team would have less of a cap hit in 2016.

          I’d expect Denver to be interested in Griffin but I don’t think that those reports are based in much more than speculation. But if you’re Cousins or his agent, why wouldn’t you put it out there that you know Kubiak’s offense and say, “look what I did without a defense.”

  4. RED - Feb 18, 2016 at 6:40 AM

    RG3!!!!!

  5. Wonwes - Feb 18, 2016 at 9:34 AM

    Put the Transition tag on him and see what offers he gets and if we like it then match the offer! He’s not worth $20m!!!

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