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Need to Know: Do the Redskins need to lock up Cousins before Luck signs?

Jun 26, 2016, 5:44 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 26, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.


—The Redskins last played a game 168 days ago. It will be 78 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 19; Preseason opener @ Falcons 46; Final roster cut 69

Should the Redskins get Cousins signed before Luck gets done?

The news, such as it was, on Kirk Cousins’ contract last week was not encouraging. It was reported that there has been little substantial progress towards getting a long-term deal done. In fact, according to Albert Breer’s of MMQB, both sides were working on the assumption that Cousins will play out the 2016 with the $19.95 million franchise tag salary.

And it should be noted that this is the proper stance for Cousins’ camp and the Redskins to take at this phase. Neither should seem desperate to get a deal done. With almost three weeks to go there is no reason for one side to show signs of panic to the other.

But the Redskins have to have one thing in the back of their minds that may create some desperation as the deadline gets closer. Breer mentioned the ongoing Andrew Luck contract extension talks. Colts owner Robert Irsay has said that the deal will be “a big number”, which in today’s quarterback market is something in the neighborhood of $25 million per year.

So let’s paint the nightmare scenario for the Redskins, at least in financial terms. The July 15 deadline passes with no deal and Cousins plays on the tag in 2016. Then just before training camp starts the blockbuster deal for Luck is announced at six years, $150 million with $75 million guaranteed.

Suppose Cousins clearly outperforms Luck in 2016. Not necessarily because he’s a better, more talented quarterback than Luck but because he has better weapons and an offense that fits him perfectly.

If that entirely plausible scenario unfolds Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, will want to start negotiations in 2017 with Luck’s deal. The Redskins, who could lock up Cousins now for something in the neighborhood of $20 million per year right now, maybe even a bit less, may end up paying more—a lot more.

According to the old adage, patience is a virtue. But perhaps not in this case. Making sure that Cousins gets locked up in the next three weeks might cost them a couple of million more per year than they really want to pay. If they wait it out and Luck resets the market they might end up paying $40 million more over the life of the contract than they might if they act now.

What Luck may or may not do should not dictate what the Redskins and Cousins do. But it is a factor that needs to be considered.


In case you missed it 


  1. garg8050 - Jun 26, 2016 at 7:07 AM

    Even though Cousins had a very good year, and more specifically, 2nd half of the season, I don’t think he can be put in the same category as Luck, even though Luck really struggled last year. Luck was the #1 pick overall; Cousins a 4th round pick. Luck has led his team to the AFC championship game and previously had multiple very good seasons. Cousins has played in one playoff game with mixed results.

    My point is that Luck will get a big contract, mostly because of his production thus far, plus his draft status. Even if Cousins and Luck have similar seasons this year, I just don’t see the ‘Skins paying him what Luck is getting or more. And frankly, I think Cousins’ agent would be doing him a disservice by even thinking that was possible.

    Ideally, a deal gets done around $20 million with $40-45 million guaranteed before the deadline.

    • bangkokben - Jun 26, 2016 at 9:15 AM

      It’s not about now; it’s about later. Luck’s deal will reset the market. I had said before free agency that Luck’s deal would set the ceiling and Bradford would set the floor. Bradford and Osweiler have already received more money guaranteed than what Cousins will get this year. The floor has been set. If the Redskins wait, that floor will increase and depending on this season, Luck’s contract can be a factor in that.

      • colorofmyskinz - Jun 26, 2016 at 10:52 AM

        Fully agree here we need to pull the trigger and eat our lumps now when the pain is less. Either way we want a QB worth $20M per year. We need to be budgeting for that either way if we want to expect to compete. If you don’t have a QB getting $20M per year chances are you don’t have a shot at the playoffs. Cousins proved enough. Pay the man!

      • lorcanbonda - Jun 27, 2016 at 11:12 AM

        The market has already been reset by mediocrity receiving oversized contracts — Osweiler, Tannehill, and Bradford.

        Luck is already making $22 million this year by virtue of his rookie contract.

        • bangkokben - Jun 27, 2016 at 11:58 AM

          Luck is on his option. $16.155M the same that Robert would’ve played on.

        • Trey Gregory - Jun 27, 2016 at 6:30 PM

          The market could get worse. I think that’s the point. We already lost a lot of ground to stand on after Bradford and Osweiler. They probably could have gotten a much better deal if they didn’t play games and just tried to sign Cousins before those contracts. And it could happen again.

          So the point is that there’s just another risk in waiting. People think it’s risky to sign him to a long-term deal after only one year of good performance. Well, this is just one more argument for why it’s risky to wait. There isn’t a risk free option.

      • Trey Gregory - Jun 28, 2016 at 1:11 AM

        @Bang: what you said just makes perfect sense. It’s hard for me to understand how anyone can’t see it like that. Just another reason on why waiting is a risk too.

    • mattphillipsdc - Jun 26, 2016 at 4:16 PM

      Cousins first year as the starter had a better year then Luck has had in his career. If I’m the Redskins I get the deal done and if I’m Cousins agent I get as much as possible. It is much more likely Cousins is only going to get better and in a year or two it will look like a bargain at 20 million per year. The deal will get done by the deadline.

      • mtskins - Jun 26, 2016 at 7:03 PM

        “Cousins first year as the starter had a better year then Luck has had in his career.”

        Mmmmmmmmm. No.

        Year Team Att% Yds 300+ TD Int Rush Yds TD
        2015 WAS 69.8 4166 7 29 11 26 48 5

        Year Team Att% Yds 300+ TD Int Rush Yds TD
        2014 IND 16 61.7 4761 10 40 16 64 273 3

        I understand the article isn’t trying to compare Luck and Cousins simply trying to say how the bar For Kirk’s contract might be set higher by Luck’s new one. Last year was a good year for Cousins. Don’t think Cousins and Luck are in the same conversation right now and shouldn’t be until Cousins has some more years under his belt.

        • 21indiscriminateThoughts - Jun 26, 2016 at 11:42 PM

          I think your regard for Luck is inflated based on his number 1 overall draft pick status. While he is a talented QB, his numbers haven’t really lived up to his hype. I would blame the roster built around him. Be that as it may I could easily argue he’s very well in the same conversation with Cousins.
          Cousins had a way better Completion percentage, higher TD to Int ratio. Luck had roughly 600 more passing yards, 9 more TDs, 5 more ints, and more rush yards. Your argument based on stats don’t merit rejecting mtskins statement. While I could argue is that Luck went further in the PO’s with a 11-5 record. I would counter that they got there playing in a crappy division with teams lead by Case Keenum (Texans 9-7), Zach Mettenberger(Titans 2-14), Chad Henne/Blake Bortles (rookie year)(Jaguars 3-13). Cousins did all of this without the offseason as a starter, he accomplished this with scraps for reps.
          I thinks Cousins stats take a step forward, but with our tough schedule…. I don’t know if our record will.

        • mtskins - Jun 27, 2016 at 12:12 AM

          My argument is based on the fact the Luck has posted numbers and taken his team to the post season for three straight years until last year. He has won playoffs games and gone to the Conference Championship. As you said you can blame the roster, but he still has led his team to wins. As far as playing in a crappy division I hate to tell you the NFC East wasn’t exactly a juggernaut last year. One of the teams you listed (Texans 9-7) had the same record as the Skins last year. Again I’m not saying Cousins isn’t good or going to be good. But until he repeats his success for a few years I’m not sure how you can compare the two.

        • mattphillipsdc - Jun 29, 2016 at 9:20 AM

          Cousins had a QBR 101 and would’ve had even a better rating if he got a little more help, like the NE game where he had 7 dropped passes. Lucks best QBR 94 and averaged a QBR 84. Kirk got better as the year went on and there’s no debating that. In the playoffs for some reason the coaches went away from what got them there and called a conservative game on both sides of the ball. DeSean Jackson disappeared and for some reason we tried to run the ball when it hadn’t worked since the second game. If you look at Kirks stats for the playoffs he played better then 5 of the 8 QBs that weekend.

          Enough of looking back.
          I see us going 10-6 as the most likely outcome even with the tougher schedule. I believe we have enough talent and the coaches know we can be a lot more aggressive with that talent. It’s also much more likely Kirk progresses with a full offseason and preseason as the #1. Kirk will have a contract by the deadline. The team and Kirk don’t want the distraction. The coaches want him locked up and think very highly of him and Kirk appreciates the opportunity and the coaches believing in him.

      • Trey Gregory - Jun 27, 2016 at 2:36 AM

        @the Cousins vs. Luck conversation: Stats don’t tell the whole story for both sides. Look, if I had to pick between Luck and Cousins right now, it would be Luck. But that’s okay, he’s shown us more. I’m a big believer in Cousins but I’ve seen more from Luck. It’s not just about stats though. I’ve seen luck have terrible games. Like 3-4 pick games and he buckled down and wills his team to a victory late in the fourth. His ability to bounce back in incredible. Luck is also more athletic, mobile, and has a stronger arm. It’s like he was built in a lab to play QB. And yes, we’ve seen him go deep in the playoffs, so that’s something. Just the eyeball test with Andrew Luck should be enough for most people to want him.

        But honestly, neither Cousins not Luck have really accomplished anything yet. A lot of us started giving Luck elite status before he deserved it. So it’s kind of a silly conversation. They’ve each done better than the other in some stats and worse in others and neither have played in a championship game yet. Luck was frankly playing terrible last year even before he was hurt so…. The jury is still out on both of them.

        But it doesn’t really matter with the contract because each of them are their team’s best option. It’s safer to sign Cousins and hope for the best than to try in the draft casino again. The Colts are going to pay Luck a monster contract because they believe he deserves it. I think we need to get Cousins signed now and save some money. Bradford and Osweiler already screwed us by setting the market higher than Washington was offering Cousins. Quit playing games and sign the guy before it happens again.

  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jun 26, 2016 at 7:16 AM

    I don’t think it’s in their hands, unless they want to hand a black check to Cousins’ agent.

    The QB market is what it is, and Luck was going to be getting a huge contract all along.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jun 26, 2016 at 7:16 AM

      Err, blank check.

    • dafoota - Jun 26, 2016 at 8:36 AM

      I don’t think of is a matter of putting cousins in the same category as luck. I think it’s a matter of valuing cousins based off of luck. I see four scenarios.

      We pay a lot now and luck out performs cousins and we save what could have been more money based off of timing.

      We pay a lot now and cousins out performs luck and we save what could have been more money based off of lucks performance.

      We don’t pay, luck outperforms, and we save the most money.

      We don’t pay, cousins outperforms luck and we pay the most money from this scenario.

      I think we should just pay him. His personality, game play, injuries, work ethic, and social personality all speaks greatness. I’m not sure what else we want to see in a QB other than leading a team to success. I think that is just a matter of time.

      • bangkokben - Jun 26, 2016 at 9:22 AM

        “We don’t pay, luck outperforms, and we save the most money.”

        The saving the most money part of this scenario isn’t really based in reality because Luck is SUPPOSED to outperform Cousins. If Bradford AND Osweiller outperform Cousins, then we’re talking. But preparing the team for a winning season (improving the team’s roster) and expecting the QB to come up short is schizophrenic. Pay da man his money. ($20M a year.)

        • kenlinkins - Jun 26, 2016 at 12:32 PM

          Hey, a “Rounders” fan (i.e. Poker). Then you understand that each hand has it own value based on information known and odds (if the players are equal in skill level). I am not buying all the soft reasons for signing Cousins (i.e. it helps settle the team, he is a great guy, we need QB, what Luck signs for or any other QB, etc) the only concern is what the GM places Cousins value at (i.e. what is this hand worth). Now Bangkokben brings up a very good point in trying to settle on Cousins value which has nothing to do with Luck, and that is how do you place yourself into a position where you hope your QB plays poorly due to the over QB market raising and the odds of where Cousins might fall money wise? (i.e. is it better to lose a small hand early hoping for a killer hand later)? The answer to that is NO, Take every dollar you can, when you can. Until I saw the “Pay Da man his money” statement it didn’t click. This GM may be forced to fold (i.e. settle now with Cousins) but if he does, he had a losing hand to begin with and is just buying time hoping to pressure the other guy off his hand. The GM knows the information and odds. While there is always risk (which I was overly concerned with) and the GM might take a bad beat, odds are he will do better to “PAY DA MAN HIS MONEY”………

    • Trey Gregory - Jun 26, 2016 at 6:56 PM

      It’s absolutely in their hands and it’s not a blank check. It’s just about offering him a good deal around 19-20 mil a year with decent guaranteed money for 2-3 years. That’s not a blank check, it’s current market value.

      Some people are getting so caught up in saving money that they’re not thinking about how much we could lose. There’s a risk with every contract. Even with Luck; they could give him a monster contract and he could have a career ending injury in the pre season. You never know. But there’s also risk in not giving him a contract. We will spend more money next year. Holding out is almost like betting against him and what kind of sense does that make? Even if he doesn’t play as well, then what? He’s still our best option unless we go 2-14 and the first overall pick. Even then, no guarantees. We will just be negotiating again next offseason and he will still be our best option. Just sign the man.

      • 21indiscriminateThoughts - Jun 26, 2016 at 11:53 PM

        I agree with ya Trey every word of it. I never thought of it like that… it really is almost like betting against him. There is every reason to get the deal done, and no good enough reason not to. We’ve gambled only plenty of fools gold… litany of bad deals I could roll out here but I will save everyone from the horrible flashbacks, we all remember. But this is a guy & position worth gambling on. We gave up a kings ransom for that other guy. KC been putting in some serious hard work at a discounted rate, time to pay him for it. Show the rest of the team how we treat homegrown talent. This is supposed to be McClaughin’s creedo too.

        Personally I am 99% sure we get a deal done at the last minute. I don’t think we will be the first team to let our QB play out the season on the Franchise tag.

  3. colorofmyskinz - Jun 26, 2016 at 7:23 AM

    I could not agree more that we need to consider this. Everyone knows I am a huge Cousins supporter. Even if we factor out the Luck effect, Cousins is set up to succeed next year for many reasons. Here are the most notable reasons:
    – Complete offseason program dedicated to him in the number 1 position
    – No drama this year in Washington, it is practically gone, team spirit at all time highs
    – New talent added like Doctson, Davis, Adds different skills to the receiving Corp
    – Paul and Paulson back with Davis added and Reed secured as the leader, best tight end group I have seen in DC! Then add Jensen and Carrier depth, best TE depth we have had as well.
    – front line in second year with Callahan.
    – Lauvao will be healthy with depth behind LG
    – recieving group best in NFL

    We could get him now for $20 per year average and only $45 M guarantee. Next year if he succeeds, which is likely, we will be looking at $25 M per year and $80M guarantee minimum. Then you add the Luck impact to this situation, and we are bust. We need to take the bird in the hand now and look toward other areas of the team to work with. LOCK HIM UP!

    • colorofmyskinz - Jun 26, 2016 at 7:50 AM

      You also have to consider the fact that Cousins has proven to respond to coaching and development better than most QBs. And he did that while underneath the drama soap opera years of RGIII. Imagine what his development will look like in the number one position with all the distractions removed. Cousins took that season on his back and broke out in the midst of never taking a preseason 1st team snap, with one week to prepare for the season opener, in the midst of the drama front and center. Cousins ability to focus and grow will be exponential now. Lock him up.

      • bangkokben - Jun 26, 2016 at 9:38 AM

        Your previous post is correct. This quote: “…never taking a preseason 1st team snap, with one week to prepare for the season opener…” is not. He started against Baltimore — the 3rd pre-season game and was the starter ever since. I’m sure he took snaps in practice with the first team leading up to the Raven game due to the uncertainty of Griffin’s status. But the point is made. Not the guy; now the guy.

    • dafoota - Jun 26, 2016 at 8:37 AM


    • dcfaninecuador - Jun 26, 2016 at 10:14 AM

      I enjoy reading your comments and generally agree with many of your positive posts. But, how the heck do you have any idea what it would take to sign KC now? Look, he’s got almost 20 mil for this year and maybe, just maybe, his agent is gonna wait for EXACTLY the scenario laid out in the article. Let Luck set the bar and go from there. From management’s perspective, it doesn’t make sense to pay big money, with a massive guarantee, to a 4th round draftee (see Foles, Nick or any number of othe one year wonders). Let him prove it on the field and then we’ll see. If he has a big year, then pay the man. He’ll be woth every penny

  4. redskins12thman - Jun 26, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    We need to wrap Cousins up by July 15th, 2016.

    The reason Scot McCloughan should get the deal done now is that the worst case is: 1. there is no scenario where the Redskins would not benefit from having Cousins at least competing to be the number one quarterback for the next 2-3 seasons, and 2. there are at least several clubs that would gladly overpay to get Cousins REGARDLESS of how Cousins does in 2016.

    Negotiating with Cousins and his agent, we have to hope that they are willing to sign a “cap-friendly” contract, the way some quarterbacks, e.g., Brady, have done. What’s as important as getting a deal done now is HOW it is done.

    For the love of the football gods, the way the Redskins have poorly dished out money to other FAs, especially in recent years, such as Haynesworth, Archuleta, Sanders, George, McNabb, Brunell, Stubblefield, Smith, Trotter, Randel El, Coles (already into double digits, the list goes on and on and is so painful to create), we can only pray that they do it right this one time when it makes sense to hold onto such a critical piece of the existing Redskins team?

  5. blazerguy234 - Jun 26, 2016 at 9:08 AM

    Seems like almost every day you all find another way to ask the same question about the chances of signing Kurt before the deadline. Fact is..IT DOES NOT MATTER! The team wants to see if he can follow through on what he did in the last 10 games, and with more talent around him. They would rather spend more later..knowing Kurt was not a “one hit wonder”. So…stop asking already..because no one knows, and both sides are ok..either way.

    • bangkokben - Jun 26, 2016 at 9:44 AM

      “The team wants to see if he can…” This is only true if come July 15 at 4:00 PM there is no deal. There is zero reason for either party to make a move until July 13.

      Like it or not, this is the THE STORY (whether there’s any new information or not) until 7-15-16 4:00 EDT.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jun 26, 2016 at 9:54 AM

        Ben is right.

        The alternative is just sitting out until training camp (or Cousins signing) with no new posts.

        You can hang out at WaPo’s Redskins Insider if that’s your preference.

      • colorofmyskinz - Jun 26, 2016 at 2:01 PM

        I think the point of the article was that the clock ticking toward 7/15 may not be the only clock. The clock for Lucks deal might be worth beating. Could raise the average of the QB market.

        • bangkokben - Jun 26, 2016 at 2:33 PM

          Luck’s deal will no doubt raise the QB market but i’d argue that that was always expected. He’s under the option now so any deal is an extension. Therefore, there is a different timeline for it to get done. (Think Williams and Kerrigan last year for the likely timing.) I’m sure the Colts would like to get it done as soon as possible but Luck’s agent may want to wait until after the tag deadline to use Cousins’ deal to get more for his client — if Cousins does in fact have a deal. It won’t work the other way — because there NO WAY that Luck would sign a deal before the tag (or ever) close to the Osweiler or Bradford deals.

          Rich’s piece speculates on what are possible costly ramifications for the Redskins if they allow Cousins to play on the tag with the possibility of Cousins outperforming Luck two years in a row.

    • mattphillipsdc - Jun 26, 2016 at 4:45 PM

      Who is Kurt? If you mean Kirk that’s all I need to know about your knowledge of the situation.

  6. smotion55 - Jun 26, 2016 at 9:21 AM

    I get the feeling that Cousins actually would like to be a trend setter and be the 1st QB to play on the franchise tag. He has a different mindset then most. Both sides would benefit from a 3 or 4 year deal and can only hope that he understands that and signs a contract and avoids any drama that will come with all the questions that will come with the situation. Every week we plays great or poorly on the tag he and the coaches will be judged and undo DRAMA will happen.
    Being that the GM and his agent are friends and have worked together before does give me hope that this is just the way they do business in the NFL now. Everything has been put in place for Cousins to have even a better year this year and if the LG and C positions get figured out and the RB position stays healthy he could have a great year. GET THIS DONE OR IT LOOKS LIKE ” SAME OLD SKINS” .

  7. bangkokben - Jun 26, 2016 at 9:49 AM

    This is the same “no-brainer” scenario that they did last May when the picked up the option on Griffin to save money against the franchise tag. There will be a last minute deal done and as long as they refrain from using phrases such as “no brainer,” everything will work out just fine.

  8. smotion55 - Jun 26, 2016 at 12:52 PM

    That ” no brainer ” move last year was most likely Snyder’s last ditch move to pull rank and show his misguided loyalty to RG3 does not fit this GM at all. Even when it was announced , the GM did not look comfortable when he explained why. It did not make sense so I am not sure if blame is needed and just accept that NOW the GM, and the coaches are in full control of this team, and Snyder has finally let football people make their choices regarding personal .

    • colorofmyskinz - Jun 26, 2016 at 2:07 PM

      I agree with the RGIII extension being a final stand for Snyder. I think Snyder finally learned to stay out of football business. By extending RGIII, they basically made his trade value worthless. I think Snyder has learned let the pros do their work.

    • bangkokben - Jun 26, 2016 at 2:39 PM

      That is certainly plausible and if Griffin had Cousins’ year last year they wouldn’t have had to use the tag. The other side of the argument is that Snyder is indeed still involved and he, himself, is the one football guy that needs convincing. The bottom line is that Snyder’s history allows us to speculate on any questionable decision depending who’s version of “questionable.”

  9. Terrell mack - Jun 26, 2016 at 1:17 PM

    Really..Kurt C is the best back up qb in the NFL…the guy is average ..

    • Rich Tandler - Jun 26, 2016 at 1:35 PM

      You apparently know a lot about “Kurt”.

      • mattphillipsdc - Jun 26, 2016 at 4:37 PM

        Well played, Rich.

        • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jun 26, 2016 at 6:38 PM

          A curt response was warranted.

    • John - Jun 28, 2016 at 10:30 PM

      Yeah, we need to get Robert back, so we can really suck again!

  10. COSSkinsFan - Jun 26, 2016 at 7:09 PM

    I hope they get cousins signed long term soon. My first thought when they signed Norman was how would Cousins see the move. With our receiving corps, a full off season of work, more experience and minimal drama I can’t imagine him regressing. I lived in Michigan and am a U of M fan. Cousins last year at MSU was a bad year for him. Hes was projected to go much higher the year before. Anyway would you pay Jamarcus Russell like Tom Brady because Russell was drafted higher? Vinnie left a few years ago.

  11. popefrady - Jun 27, 2016 at 4:28 PM

    How about we let Capt’n Kirk play this season out and earn what he deserves. The cap will increase next season and if he wants crazy money, then give him a 4 yr deal, with a 3 year out plan. Hail! Archives

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