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Need to Know: Will the Redskins and Cousins get a deal done?

May 13, 2016, 5:12 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 13, 11 days before the Redskins start OTAs.


At Redskins Park: Rookie minicamp starts; media access will be allowed on Saturday.

—The Redskins last played a game 124 days ago. It will be 122 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 11; Redskins training camp starts 76; Preseason opener @ Falcons 90

Hot topic

Earlier this week Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports had a post with some “things on my mind”. One of them raised some eyebrows among Redskins was item No. 4:

It looks like the Redskins will get a deal done with Kirk Cousins.  That’s a nice development for both parties.

That was the sum total of what he had to say on the matter. There were no specifics like if one side or the other was about to give in or if a deal is imminent.

Kirwan is a former NFL general manager. He also is tight with Bruce Allen so this “thing on his mind” probably shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand despite the lack of a cited source or much in the way of specifics.

It’s difficult to see why much of anything would happen over the next two months. Neither side has incentive to give any ground. The Redskins can hold out for a lower annual salary and exit ramps after two or three years while Cousins camp is likely to keep up its demands for more money and a deal that locks him in for the next several years.

But two months from today we will be about 48 hours away from the July 15 deadline. After that date, negotiations on a long-term deal must stop and any tagged players must play out the season under the signed tender. If there is going to be movement towards middle ground it will start to happen as the deadline approaches.

Last year four players—Dallas WR Dez Bryant, Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas, Chiefs LB Justin Houston, and Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski all signed long-term contracts on July 15. Less than 24 hours before these players signed there seemed to be little hope that any of them would get a contract. But the deadline drove the four deals.

With Cousins and the Redskins there are strong incentives for both sides to get something done. The team doesn’t want to go through this again next year with the cost to tag Cousins for a second time going up to nearly $24 million (with the salary cap number for Josh Norman running up to $20 million next year the Redskins would be using up about 25 percent of cap for two players). Cousins could decide that he doesn’t want to risk the life-changing money that will be on the table to injury or having an off year and tell his agent to make the best deal that he can.

No quarterback has played out the year on the tag; the team and the QB have always been able to get a deal done. That’s because the position is so important to the team and because the large amounts of guaranteed money in quarterback contracts tug the player towards a compromise. There is too much at stake to let it ride another year.

To be sure, there is always a first time. It’s safe to say that most quarterbacks to get tagged have a more substantial track record than does Cousins so this is an unusual situation. But the same forces that have pushed quarterbacks and teams together in the past still exist.

Ultimately Kirwan’s “thought” is likely to turn out to be accurate. But it is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Stat of the day

In 2015 the Redskins had 104 rushing plays for either no gain or negative yards. Only six NFL teams had more such plays. Alfred Morris had 37 of his 202 rushing attempts go for no gain or a loss (18%) compare to Matt Jones, who had 38 on 144 carries (26 percent).

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  1. colorofmyskinz - May 13, 2016 at 6:28 AM

    Nice post Rich!! That “thought” post was intriguing and I was wondering what that was about. Thanks for the insight.

    The team would be insane to not lock him for at least 3 years. And cousins would be insane not to take 3 years (at minimum). Cousins is coming from $600k per year to astronomical numbers. What is the difference between $18m per year or $22m per year?? They are all insanely life changing for him. And right now his only guarantee is $19.9M. They will be dangling $45-50 M guarantee in front of him which is way more than $19.9. And there are no guarantees he will have the same performance or even be healthy by the end of the season to think he has a shot at that type of guarantee. He has more to potentially lose in my mind.

    That is what makes me think that deal gets done. The other side is that Kirk is watching a super bowl caliber team being built. Even if he plays the tag, and hits the market, there are no guarantees he will land with a team on a trajectory the redskinds are on. He could go to a team like the saints, and how much closer to the big one would he be? He has too much to lose to play the tag out in my opinion. Far to much to lose.

    Because of that. And because I know as freakish organized as he is, he does not like risk, he will want a plan – and a deal well prior of the deadline. This is a guy that has ever 15 minutes of his life mapped out on a spread sheet for the season. Hard to create his spread sheet when his next 3 years are not known. He will want that deal quickly to get into the focus you know he wants to prepare his 15 minute incremental spreads she on every exercise and meal he his going to eat.

    I say deal prior to June 8th.

    • bangkokben - May 13, 2016 at 9:20 AM

      “They will be dangling $45-50 M guarantee in front of him…”

      This is what is holding this contract back. We don’t know what guaranteed money has been offered — at least $20M, but what number exactly. The lower the guarantee the quicker the exit. A five year $100M contract with only $20M guaranteed is basically the same level of commitment the team has given with the tag and same sort of pressure to prove his worth as what he’s got right now. So why sign that? By all reports, Cousins wants at least $20M average per year (APY) and the Redskins want $16M APY. Reports also suggest that exit ramps are too short of Cousins’ camp’s liking. This suggests that the Redskins aren’t offering $45-50 M. As soon as they do, the deal will get done.

      I am on record saying that I thought they’d get it done within a fortnight of the draft. With the signing of Norman, the release of Culliver, the signings of the draft picks, and Reed’s extension. The salary cap reasons I thought that would force the timing to be now are all but exhausted. It does remain an option to get more room under the cap before June but at what purpose? Now the only reason for an early signing is to avoid the media questioning until the deadline and both McCloughan and Cousins seem to be adept at handling that. The only person who could slip would be Bruce Allen. Maybe he did, already.

    • mattphillipsdc - May 14, 2016 at 10:11 AM

      It will get done by the deadline and both parties have equal incentives. Kirk and the team both will want the security of a deal done and the distraction behind them. Gruden would not have put his career on the line for Kirk if he didn’t see Kirk was an elite QB and Kirk owes it to Gruden for risking his career for him. It was a risk that paid off big time for both of them.

      I agree with Rich our most like win total will be 10 and a best case 12 wins and worst case 7 loses.


  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 13, 2016 at 7:44 AM

    I guess it won’t be until OTA media availability that we find out more on rehabbing players such as Lauvao, Rich?

    • Rich Tandler - May 13, 2016 at 8:46 AM

      We will talk to Jay but the etiquette is that the questions deal with the rookies. The first day of OTA availability is May 25 and that’s when we will get a more complete update.

  3. Mr.moneylover - May 13, 2016 at 8:44 AM

    I hope my guy Vernon Adams impress the redskins coaching staff everybody surprise redskins was interested in him because he’s 5-11 but if you watch his tape you will be like wow

  4. smotion55 - May 13, 2016 at 9:06 AM

    With this GM expect the unexpected. I could see them signing him early or not at all because nobody really knows what is going on at redskin park anymore. It is a beautiful thing to be keep in the dark with all these moves and out of the DRAMA .Smart money says he will get signed before the deadline but if he is the first QB not to sign it would not surprise me at all. He might not want to sign and roll the dice on himself The Redskins might not want to give in until they see another year. He will play somewhere next year even if he under performs.
    I will just stay in the moment and enjoy all the news and updates from the rookie camp this weekend.. Hope for no INJURIES and a good look at these prospects. June 1st cuts just around the corner, year around things going on at Redskins park. Rich has a lot of good things to write about these days. GOOD TIMES

    • sidepull - May 13, 2016 at 9:20 AM

      Somebody fixed the leaky pipes.

  5. kenlinkins - May 13, 2016 at 10:48 AM

    Rich, How does a story like this get started? No real details / numbers and no names to tag it to? I would hope that no reporter wouldn’t just post something without feeling the information they have is correct and some sources are better then others. Someone told Pat Kirwan something that caused him to post what he did, but there is nothing to follow up on. Where do you look to check it out after reading “Looks like” a deal! Where is the “Who what why when where & How” of reporting? Is Kirwan now writing a :Gossip” column or is he still a Sports Reporter? IMO blogging / posting is not the same as writing as the rules for correctness seem much lower.

    • bangkokben - May 13, 2016 at 11:36 AM

      Ken, listening to the video. It’s pretty clear that Kirwan is basing his opinion on his talks with Bruce Allen. Bruce may have simply said, “Pat, we WILL get a deal done.” This may simply be bravado, projecting an air of confidence, or based in nothing more than intentions OR it may be based on talks BUT that has not been confirmed by another source.

    • Rich Tandler - May 13, 2016 at 2:38 PM

      Well, the reason I didn’t entitle the post “A Redskins-Cousins deal WILL get done” is because it’s not a traditional “report”. Kirkwan is not a gossip columnist, he’s not a “reporter”, never has been either. He’s an “insider” who has connections around the league, some of them particularly strong (i.e. the one with Bruce). That gives him license to pass along a tidbit like this one without multiple sources. It’s up to fans as consumers of news to draw a distinction between something like what Kirwan wrote and a sourced report.

  6. austrianhttrfan - May 13, 2016 at 12:51 PM

    I personally hope they let him play under the tag, but I have a good feeling Cousins could be the right guy for the job…

    • bangkokben - May 13, 2016 at 2:34 PM

      I don’t see how this would be a good idea. As evidenced by Chris Culliver’s contract, any contract can be broken by the team with very little cap consequences. Now, if Cousins plays the same or just under, the price doesn’t stay the same but it goes UP.

      • 21indiscriminatethoughts - May 14, 2016 at 1:39 AM

        Only reason his contract was voidable was because of the suspension otherwise we’d be on the hook for the $8 million!

        • bangkokben - May 14, 2016 at 8:55 AM

          True, but had he not been suspended, the Redskins would’ve made cuts elsewhere. The Redskins haven’t even used that $8 million to get Norman under the cap. That money isn’t available until June 1st.

          Cousins would have to play like John Beck for the Redskins to eat a long-term contract after the first year. A long-term contract makes the team’s commitment more than one year but not as long as the contract — only the guaranteed money AND keeps the cap hit DOWN.

  7. austrianhttrfan - May 13, 2016 at 12:53 PM

    Sorry for always asking different questions but whats the update on Normans Jersey number actually?
    Because I can´t imagine that Ienacho wants to wait untill all numbers are occupied (I guess its very realistic to think that a player at least cares a very little bit about his number) and than give it to Norman or did it already happened and if so whats Ienachos new number?

    • bangkokben - May 13, 2016 at 2:03 PM

      Duke is now #29.

  8. mauriceatwood - May 13, 2016 at 1:19 PM

    I think they should let him play out as is for the year to prove himself worthy of a long term contract. Until Cousins has lead the Redskins to some wins over teams with better than .500 records and a playoff win or two then the Redskins need to be wary of giving guaranteed long term money to Cousins. I like Cousins and hope he is the guy, because we certainly don’t want to start over at the QB position, but until then I think allowing Cousins to play on the franchise tag is the best for both sides.

  9. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 13, 2016 at 1:33 PM

    Add a QB to the rookie tryout pool.

    Among the 33 tryout players participating are Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams, who earned Offensive East-West Shrine Game MVP honors earlier this year…

  10. colmac69 - May 13, 2016 at 3:26 PM

    If he plays under the tag the balls in cousins court as another gd yr maybe pop his value up to 25 mill and redskins prob only to happy to pay him….it’s already been pointed out skins will have the cap room regardless

    However he under performs his value could fall to the 15/16 mill which appears what redskins are offering just now….

    Unless u got an ear in either camp we will just have to take usual wait and see approach….certainly no need to lose any sleep over

    Having not posted for couple wks have to say I’m quietly delighted how things are coming along….seems to b nothing but positive vibes surrounding team which is more than welcome. ….

    Mid may already…hard to believe that we nearly at the o.t.a,s…..

    Touch over 5 and half months till wembley game and watching my first ever live redskin game (hopefully we not 0-6 or something when it comes around)

  11. lezziemcdykerson - May 13, 2016 at 4:01 PM

    “No quarterback has played out the year on the tag; the team and the QB have always been able to get a deal done.” I thought Brees played on the tag in SD and broke his collarbone.

    • Rich Tandler - May 13, 2016 at 6:19 PM

      He was not tagged. They had Rivers waiting in the wings, they just let him walk.

  12. shermanp79 - May 14, 2016 at 1:59 PM

    You look at the Bradford Deal and the deal Houston gave, Cousins will be in that ballpark yearly but get a bit more guaranteed money and they probably put it in a 5 yr deal. With them having an out in 3 years. I can’t see Cousins agreeing at 2 years. So what…5 years 90M with 45-50M guaranteed. If he had started for 3 years maybe this deal would be in the 120-130M range for 6 yrs but he didn’t.
    I can’t imagine what kind of deal Luck will get. Which may be the biggest reason for the team to get a deal done. Luck may be a bargain at 24M next year the way this is going. 18M for Bradford and a guy who starts 7 games?? WOW To think RG3 got 13M for 2yrs?? Archives

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