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Need to Know: Is Kirk Cousins bluffing about playing on the tag?

Jun 20, 2016, 5:03 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 20, 38 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.


—The Redskins last played a game 162 days ago. It will be 84 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 38; Preseason opener @ Falcons 52; Final roster cut 75

Redskins hot topics

—Is Kirk Cousins bluffing about being willing to play out the season on the franchise tag? His comment last week saying “see you on the other side” had a tinge of false bravado to it. There is a lot at stake for him. If he stumbles this year he might be able to get a contract for $15 million per year on a one- two-year deal. He can probably get the Redskins to agree to $18 million per year for five years right now. Cousins supposedly wants about $20 million. Is the difference in money really worth the risk to Cousins? We will see as July 15 approaches.

—A year ago Will Compton was a lock to make the team but his role was unclear. Things have changed and Compton is not only at the top of the depth chart in Sharpie but he also is emerging as a leader on defense. Not bad for an undrafted free agent who is just in his third year. He wants to take the next step by creating more impact plays this year. In his career Compton has one interceptions, one sack, and one fumble recovery.

—The Redskins’ rushing game was at its worst when it needed to be at its best. On first-down carries they gained an average of 3.3 yards per carry, the worst in the NFL. They ran for either no gain or a loss on 63 plays in 2015, tied for third worst in the league. That’s not going to get it done.

—In case your wondering, Alfred Morris wasn’t any better than Matt Jones was on first down rushes. They both had 23 carries for either zero yards or negative yards.

—However, Morris was better than Jones on all first-down carries. Morris gained 471 yards on 128 carries (3.7 average) while the rookie gained 207 on 76 attempts (2.7). However, that doesn’t mean that Morris’ performance on first down was acceptable. Only three other backs with at least 100 first down rushing attempts had a worse per-carry average.

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  1. Trey Gregory - Jun 20, 2016 at 5:31 AM

    It will be perfectly understandable, from both sides, if Cousins plays on the franchise tag. But it seems like an unnecessary risk all around. Seems like both sides should be able to cave a little and meet in the middle for the sake of long term security. Especially for Cousins. Betting on yourself is one thing, but do the math about how much he has to gain vs how much he has to lose. There has to be a sticking point about guaranteed money or how quickly the team can get out of the contract for something not to get done.

    And the run game has to get better. I don’t see this team getting consistent until that happens. I’m almost shocked McCloughan didn’t do more this offseason to help it. We’re really relying on the young linemen and Jones taking a step forward this year to just be serviceable while the pass gets the job done.

  2. colorofmyskinz - Jun 20, 2016 at 6:26 AM

    The deal will get done with Kirk. He is too much of a planner and not so much a risk taker. He will come to an agreement and deal prior to the deadline. He will not want the uncertainty.

    Compton was a great find! His ability to read offenses once lined up is outstanding. He makes incredible last minute adjustments that make a huge difference in the play.

    Everyone is worrying about Jones and the RB position. The stats might not show it but Jone ran with more punch than Morris by far. Once we have LG and C figured out, Jones will thrive. He has great catching abilities, pass protection, and downhill speed. Morris could do none of this. Jone knocks people straight over and destroys tacklers. He will be a beast for us this year once they stabilize the line.


    • ET - Jun 20, 2016 at 3:03 PM

      “The stats might not show it but Jone ran with more punch than Morris by far. Once we have LG and C figured out, Jones will thrive.”

      I like your optimism and I hope you’re right. But I have my doubts. Jones has a lot to prove—durability, vision, hitting his marks, ball protection. I like the guy but he doesn’t look like a #1 running back yet. And neither does the rest of the position group.

      • Trey Gregory - Jun 20, 2016 at 3:54 PM

        I agree ET. Jones showed flashes but he still has a lot to prove. He looks the part, seems to have good catching ability, and certainly has the power. But that’s not everything.

  3. garg8050 - Jun 20, 2016 at 6:51 AM

    The QB position is such a dependent position. A lot of things can happen that can affect how a QB performs and hopefully, Cousins and his agent realize that. Last season, especially in the 2nd half, everything came together for him in terms of health of his receivers and o-line, game planning, and his overall performance.

    A lot can change this season. Hopefully things only get better and not worse, but I think it would be in everyone’s best interest to get a reasonable deal done. Throw in some performance bonuses, etc., but I don’t see why either side would want to chance it.

  4. redskins12thman - Jun 20, 2016 at 7:36 AM

    I don’t believe Kirk is bluffing. If Kirk wants ~$20 million per year, would he be willing to take a little less if the deal was long-term and if there were additional bonus incentives thrown in that would have his compensation exceed $20 million (e.g., playoff wins bonus)? Even if the Redskins have more quarterback competition next off-season, I cannot envision a scenario where it would make sense for the Redskins not to have Cousins be a key part of that competition, and with Cousins’ experience, being the clear frontrunner to start. The Redskins should sign Cousins long-term because there are not enough serviceable quarterbacks to fill NFL starting roles and some NFL team would easily pay Cousins a lot of money. Osweiler is getting $18 million per year with the Texans. Hopefully the Redskins can limit the impact of compensation that translates to future cap hits the way the Patriots do with Brady’s contract; the Redskins will need to resign other key contributors in 2017 too.

    Compton seems to thrive in his level of consistency and getting the defense as a whole to play better. What a great story. Hopefully, he can help “quarterback” the defense to collectively do better against the run and in preventing first down conversions. Can Compton become our next London Fletcher or Chris Hanburger?

    The offensive line has as much to do with the Redskins running game struggles as the running backs last season. Hopefully, the play at center and LG improves this season after the inconsistencies last season when both Lauvao and Lichensteiger were out. I hope the struggles Moses and Scherff had in mini-camp are not a sign of a “sophomore” slump. An effective double TE formation might also really help the Redskins running game too, which could never get off the ground in 2015 given all the injuries the team faced at TE. The Redskins stretch plays seemed to gain more per attempt than other rushing plays so hopefully the Redskins can stretch more often in 2016.

    • kenlinkins - Jun 20, 2016 at 8:12 AM

      Osweiler got a 4 year deal of $72 million and $37 million guaranteed with a $12 million Cap hit in 2016 and $19 million in 2017 and $21 million in 2018 (with a Cap savings of $15 million in 2018 if cut). So he really got a 2 year deal at $18.5 per year. IMO Cousins would want another year of guaranteed money and the Redskins would take the Osweiler for Cousins in a heart beat.

      • bangkokben - Jun 20, 2016 at 9:06 AM

        Which is why I’ve been saying since March: 5-years, $95,000,000 with $45,000,000 guaranteed. The structure could be arranged in such a way that it suits all parties.

        • kenlinkins - Jun 20, 2016 at 11:50 AM

          Interesting, maybe something like a split 3rd year (half guaranteed / half not)? Like $15 million, $15 million, $20 million, $22 million, $23 million (and give a $20 million signing bonus so the Cap Hit is $13 million in 2016, 2017, and the Redskins would have to eat around $10 million if they cut him in 2018 if he fails, but pays him over $20 million in 2018, 2019, 2020 if he is the real deal? I like it, it splits the risk, gives Cousins a $20 million pay day when he signs, keeps the cap number in good order and gives the Redskins an exit at the same time it protects Cousins as if he is cut in year 3 (as he would get $45 million for 2 years work, just like being tagged twice)…… I like it.

        • Rich Tandler - Jun 20, 2016 at 12:02 PM

          So, Ken, you’re saying, “You like that!”?

        • Trey Gregory - Jun 20, 2016 at 2:35 PM

          Ken: I’m glad you can see it like that. That’s exactly what some of us have been trying to say. I don’t know exactly how they would do the contract. But there are ways to do it where Cousins gets paid but there’s a minimal cap hit down the road.

          Some fans are understandably nervous at the thought of being on the hook for $20 mil a year for the next 5 years. But that’s not how it works. Teams never pay contracts out to full term. Unless they’re very happy with the player. There’s always an exit ramp. Most of these contracts are essentially 2-3 year deals.

        • kenlinkins - Jun 21, 2016 at 9:14 AM

          You reminded me that any contract is based on “The amount of money is always based on the amount of Want to”. And to Rich: I guess I do like it……

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jun 20, 2016 at 7:47 AM

    Young people can be overly confident in the face of the odds.

    Probably even more so if you just measured professional athletes.

  6. wvredskins - Jun 20, 2016 at 7:52 AM

    I really hope they get a deal done. I think that will only help with cousins confidence. So they should work with each other and get it done. I believe they will get it done, because history shows that qbs do not play on the franchise tag. This is alittle bit of a different circumstance due to maybe the redskins want to see more before they break the bank for cousins. I think cousins has done enough and is only going to get better.

    The running game HAS to get better. In my eyes you can’t do worse then what they accomplished last year. I am hoping that one of the rookie running backs or mack brown turns oUT to be the extra back that will get some carries and who knows turns out to be special. I’m not to worried about the line. The oline will be better due to coaching and due to young lineman getting valuable experience.

  7. kenlinkins - Jun 20, 2016 at 7:55 AM

    Rich, IMO Cousins playing on the Tag places all of the risk on Cousins, and paying $20 million for 5 years (Total $100 million with about $65 million guaranteed) places all the risk on the Redskins. So, where is the happy middle ground. You say the Redskins would offer $18 million for 5 years ($90 million total & say $55 million guaranteed) but I read the Redskins offered $15 million for 4 years ($60 million & about $40 million guaranteed) which would be about a 35% to 50% increase from offer to contract you suggested. Am I correct thinking that the Redskins would have to be pretty damn sure Cousins was not a one year wonder before offering anywhere near $90 to $100 million over 5 years (even if the guaranteed money was only $55 to $65 million)? In most cases over the years I have been able to be pretty close at guessing where a contract would land, but this Cousins contract seems to be in a very rare area as there are way too many moving parts. I do give both Cousins and the Redskins GM credit as very little drama has hit the media, which again for Redskins fan is a rare area / position to be in.

  8. John - Jun 20, 2016 at 12:33 PM

    Bluffing? Possible. Both sides know the market. This is no time to take a wait and see approach. Consider what the Texans paid to get Osweiler based on 7 games with a better team around him. Consider what Bradford got and he has never lived up to expectations.

    This is not a Ryan Fitzpatrick situation. The Jets are playing hardball because Fitzpatrick is a known quantity. 11 years in the league, multiple teams and limited results, that are not that good. The Jets had a playoff spot all but locked up but his bad play kept them out of the playoffs.

    There are a bunch of star QBs getting up in age and father time will catch up to them soon enough. Kirk is one of the up and comers and has proven himself. Time to make a deal before the price goes up!

  9. lorcanbonda - Jun 20, 2016 at 4:06 PM

    I can’t imagine that Cousins is bluffing. I think it is more like he has $20 million in the bank, plus endorsement deals. That is more than any of us could reasonably imagine. I’m sure he’s not planning on failing or getting a career ending injury, but he’s fine with $20 million.

    Next year, we need to get a deal done, and it probably won’t be cheap.

    • Trey Gregory - Jun 20, 2016 at 5:00 PM

      Lets assume all that is true, then we need to get a deal done this year. What’s the point in waiting for the cap to go up and some other team (like Philly recently) to overpay and set the market higher? Being bearish against signing Cousins is kind of silly. There’s no such thing as a sure bet in this game. No contract without risk. But why bet against your starting QB? Why hold out and say, “we think you’re play will drop next year and we can get away with paying less.” It seems counterproductive.

      Quality starting QBs are hard to find. This is the team that sold the farm for a guy who never played an NFL snap. Because that’s how important QBs are. This is the best prospect Washington has had in a long time. Lock him up. Give him a signing bonus, front load the contract with the guaranteed money, and they can get out of it in 2 years if they need to. But don’t bet against him. It’s management 101 that employees will work better and be more productive when they feel comfortable and supported. Let Cousins feel like he has the full faith of the franchise and let’s see what he can do. With no excuses.

      Because the money doesn’t matter if he doesn’t work out. These contracts are really only 2 year deals. We’re going to be losing a lot of games and getting a lot of high draft picks for the next couple years if Cousins doesn’t work out. Because it’s hard to find the guy. And chances are we would just try and overdraft his replacement anyway, which would be relative cheap. So who cares if there’s sunk costs? We have to try. At his worst Cousins is a good enough stop gap until we find the next young guy to draft. And Cousins would allow us not to start that young QB until he’s ready; while slightly overpaying for a mediocre QB. That’s at his worst. It’s a win for the team either way. Archives

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