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Need to Know: Redskins taking big risks either way with Cousins contract

Jul 8, 2016, 5:13 AM EDT

Cousins-TD-vs-Bears

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 8, 20 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 180 days ago. It will be 66 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 7; Preseason opener @ Falcons 34; Final roster cut 57

The Redskins are gambling on Cousins either way

Redskins fans have divided into two camps when it comes to a long-term contract for quarterback Kirk Cousins.

—The Redskins should do whatever it takes to sign him before the deadline (coming up on July 15, one week from today) because it will cost them a lot more if they wait and he has even a good year, let along a great one.

—The Redskins need to wait and see if Cousins really is the quarterback he was in the last 10 games of last year. Paying top-shelf quarterback money to a mid- to lower- level quarterback would be a salary cap disaster.

The thing is both sides have a valid argument.

—If they give in and pay Cousins what he wants now, something in the neighborhood of $22 million per year with some $50 million or more in guaranteed money, the Redskins risk overpaying their quarterback. That could leave them unable to acquire and/or retain the talent needed to win with a pedestrian QB.

—If they hold firm and then watch as Cousins plays well in 2016 they would be plunged into a quarterback market where contracts for even mediocre quarterbacks are high and getting higher. They could end up paying several million dollars more per season for Cousins’ services than they would have if they had just slightly overpaid him (from their perspective) in 2016.

So there are major risks either way the Redskins go. The way it looks right now, they are leaning towards holding firm, willing to take the chance that Cousins will have a full season like he had the last 10 games of 2015, potentially sending the cost of a long-term contract skyrocketing.

I have a hard time being too critical of them if they do stick with this stance. It is very rational for the organization to believe they don’t yet have a handle on his true value based on one season as a full-time starter and therefore a major, long term commitment right now would be unwise. They will be happy to pay a quarterback $20 million to $25 million, perhaps more, if they are sure that he is worth the money.

It should be noted that there are risks on Cousins’ end as well. If he doesn’t take the Redskins’ last, best offer he risks seeing that money vaporize if he plays poorly or gets injured. But if he takes it and leads the team on a deep playoff run he will have left millions of dollars on the table.

As we get closer to the deadline, the risks tend to get magnified. And as that happens, the pressure to make a deal increases exponentially. We will see if Cousins and the Redskins both stand firm as the pressure mounts or if one or the other gives way.

In case you missed it 

  1. redskins12thman - Jul 8, 2016 at 6:41 AM

    Regardless of how Cousins plays this season, the Redskins will have to pay him or let him become a free agent. The reason is, even if Cousins had a bad year, there would still be several teams out there willing to pay Cousins
    ~$20-$22 million per year with ~$50+ million guaranteed. The Redskins would want Cousins at least competing for the starting spot for the next several years anyway so I don’t see why the team wouldn’t sign Cousins to 6 or 7 year deal now.

    The risk of injury exists for every player all the time.

    We have to hope a deal gets done by no later than a week from today. If not, the odds are it will cost the Redskins much more next season.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 8, 2016 at 2:54 PM

      That’s such a logical, rational, and reasonable way of looking at the situation. I don’t understand why more people can’t see it.

      The alternative is what gets left out of this conversation so often. What’s the alternative? Who is going to come play better than Cousins for cheaper? And is it not a significant risk to assume we will find him? I argue it’s much more of a risk to rely on free agency or the draft to find his replacement than to overpay him a couple million. Even if he ends up only mediocre.

      There is no scenario without risk. The best option is that if the most mitigated risk. That’s signing him now.

      • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 8, 2016 at 4:59 PM

        The alternative is tagging him again. We don’t HAVE TO lose him to free agency and given your numbers we’d only be over paying him 4 mil for one year but he’d average your proposed number of 22M year (19 now, 23 next year). All of it would be guaranteed at 48M. Keep in mind this is only IF he leads us to a stellar year and warrants that type of pay day. If he has another up and down year they shouldn’t sign him long term “just cause” he’s an upgrade from what we’ve had. Not when we can use him as a stop gap for what would be a little more than the Bradford deal 17.5/year or Osweilier 18/year which is where he falls. Only difference is Kirk won’t sign a short term prove it deal so we have to force our hand which means over paying a bit (depending on who you ask). If there’s any position you don’t mind over paying it’s QB especially if the guy is productive. He’ll make his money and the Skins will get to evaluate him without being married to him. Win win as far as I’m concerned. He can ask for as much as he wants but we franchise him again what’s he gonna do? Not sign? Go the year without playing/proving to other teams he’s worth a big pay day? He’ll take the check with a smile like he’s doing this year because this is maybe 4-5M more than he would’ve made had he signed a proposed short term (2-3yr) prove it deal.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 8, 2016 at 6:40 PM

          No I get all that. I think you may have missed my point. I mean what’s the alternative to Cousins? Do you honestly believe we could find a player as good in free agency? Or that it’s less risky (than signing him) to play the draft lottery? Good QBs, even average QBs, are hard to find. That’s why so many teams are without and the market is so high.

          Cousins is the best bet we have. So why not just accept that and pay him? Avoid the drama and distractions and see what happens. What happens if he doesn’t play great, but doesn’t play bad next year? Can you say with certainty that he’s going to take a lower deal? Some team like the Browns would probably happily pay him 20mil. And we sink back into the depths of the division and dysfunction. Can you confidently say that tagging him, instead of throwing our full support behind him, won’t mess with him mentally? That we won’t create more obsticals for him to overcome? We’re talking about taking a huge risk for saving 4-6 million dollars. It’s nutty. We need to throw our full support behind him to see what happens. Because we’re screwed one way or the other if he fails. Anything else is wishful thinking.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 8, 2016 at 7:38 PM

          I think you missed my point, why are we worried about free agency when we should be evaluating who we have here, Cousins? No one said “we should move on he’s a bum” just that we need to take a deeper look at what we have. A 10 game sample size (plus his handful of starts where he got himself benched) is not enough for a long term deal. I would have rather us signed him to a short term deal but if we’re going to tag him (repeatedly) in lieu of that that’s fine by me. Not sure where free agency gets slid in here, he’s ours to let walk and with the franchise tag there’s really “no” way he’s going anywhere. So who cares what desperate teams like the Browns would do? He ours whether we sign him or not. He could opt to not sign the tender but, again, that’s a year he’d have to spend away from football that hinders him from auditioning for OTHER teams. Also could project a little diva vibe and hurt his stock.Something he’s not likely to do.

          You seem eager to pay him forgetting that there are fresh crops of QB’s coming into the league every year. Are they going to be better than Cousins? I have a better question, do we even know if Cousins is any good? He’s had flashes where he looks competent and then regressions where he gets benched. So many people want to put our playoff loss to GB on our def when we had drives to cut it down and couldn’t. Inconsistent? Regression? Growing pains? How can you tell the difference in such a small sample size? No we shouldn’t pay him YET and if he has another Good Rex Bad Rex season we should then maybe look at our options which include the tag and the draft. Chicago signed a guy, Rex, long term on your “wishful thinking” theory and basically wasted their years with that stellar defense. Let’s not be that chick that’s ready to throw it all away for a guy on his potential only to realize he’s only good when he wants something. Everyone’s nice when you first meet them and Kirk has been umm “moody.” That’s what dating is for Trey, let’s keep it casual and if he’s worth keeping around.. we’ll do something freaky for him in due time. He’s just gotta wait.
          “Can you confidently say that tagging him, instead of throwing our full support behind him, won’t mess with him mentally?” Hmmm odd question. You also hear about players feeling the weight or having to live up to their contracts. Trying to do too much to prove they’re worth it. So it’s a two way street, though I’d rather him not go down either road. My take, if he’s that fragile, letting contract negotiations affect his play, he probably won’t be a good QB. Good QB’s can compartmentalize.

          “We need to throw our full support behind him to see what happens. Because we’re screwed one way or the other if he fails. Anything else is wishful thinking.”
          I think signing him to a long term deal and “seeing what happens” is the exact definition of wishful thinking.

        • redskins12thman - Jul 8, 2016 at 8:17 PM

          A player can only be franchised tagged two seasons in a row. If this tag occurs a 2nd time on Cousins, my guess is that he will get fed up waiting for the legit contract offer and sign with another team once the tag year is completed.

          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 the Redskins do it right this one time when it makes sense to hold onto such a critical piece of the existing team.

          Pay the man already.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 8, 2016 at 8:34 PM

          How does he sign with another team after we tag him? I think you mean he threatens to sit out ala Drew Brees and pouts in hopes that we rescind the tag so he can pull a Josh Norman? Also your guess is a little steeped in emotion whereas Cousins is on record saying he wouldn’t mind playing on the tag this year and that if he doesn’t play well next year he doesn’t deserve a deal. Now if you’re saying that in your interviews and follow that up this season with play that doesn’t warrant a long term deal then why would you NOT sign the second tender? Especially since it’s full guaranteed at 23 M? Elite money. No one is going to give him more than Luck when Luck took a team of nobodies to the playoffs 3/5 years he’s been in the league. He’s going to sign that tag with a cheddar bob grin and hope like hell there isn’t a good crop of QB’s coming out in 2018’s draft to hurt his bargaining power. Hopefully he just focuses on playing well as this will be the only thing that helps move the MADTV guy of the fence.

        • redskins12thman - Jul 9, 2016 at 12:21 AM

          We tag Cousins for 2016; he plays that year. for the Redskins We tag Cousins for 2017; he plays that year for the Redskins. Cousins plays for another team in 2018, 2019, etc.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 9, 2016 at 12:30 AM

          How he plays this year determines that. If he has an iffy season with the host of weapons available and all the first tream reps… He can ask for whateve but he’ll get the tag. He plays well and I’m sure Scot will pay him.

        • redskins12thman - Jul 9, 2016 at 3:24 AM

          My point is, it does not matter how Cousins plays. He will get the money whether the Redskins pays him or someone else does. Even if Cousins is just okay in 2016, are you really willing to let Cousins go in 2017 or 2018 (if we franchise tag him in 2017) because that is what I think will happen.

        • lorcanbonda - Jul 9, 2016 at 1:22 PM

          The challenge is that each year they wait to sign him, these figures go up. Next year a franchise tag would be $24 million, and it will keep rising each year after that. With our receivers, few people believe he could possibly have a bad season. Which means, he is likely to expect more next year.

          Sign him if you can.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 11, 2016 at 5:00 PM

          Well that’s not really a problem seeing as if he performs well he’ll be making close to that anyway. I think Luck is making 23 a year so he’ll be withing 2 million of that. He can’t ask for more than Luck. I take that back, he can certainly ask for more than Luck but without the sustained success Luck has had , the Skins might not give it to him. I believe if he comes out and he’s lights out, maybe there’s wiggle room in there. Like if Scot projects him being a better QB than Luck by year six of his career maybe he’ll give Cousins more than Luck. If Cousins comes out and looks mediocre than he’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in the organization (besides maybe Snyder) with their checkbooks at the ready for his crazy demands. Keep in perspective he’s only played in 19 games and has looked less than average in half of them. Got himself benched for McCoy. Let’s see him turn the corner before we mortgage off our franchise to the guy.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 12, 2016 at 2:17 AM

          Which brings me back to, what’s the alternative if he doesn’t play lights out? What else are we going to do? You seem so sure that he’s going to take less instead of going somewhere else. Or, we could tag him again and pay him 48 mil over 2 years with no long term security for the team. But we would buy a massive distraction and create a schism between the starting QB and the team. You can keep saying it over and over but it’s still not going to make sense.

          And it’s not mortgaging the future. It’s securing it. But these deals are really just 2-3 year deals. Which would be one more year than 2 tags. Even though it says 5 years 140 mil. If only 40-60 mil is guaranteed, it’s only a 2-3 year contract. There’s ways of doing this that work for everyone.

          I really can’t figure out where our communication is breaking down. We’re just saying the same thing over and over. If your point is that we shouldn’t give him a 5 year fully guaranteed contract, then I agree. Everyone everywhere agrees because those kinds of contracts don’t exists in the NFL.

  2. skinsgame - Jul 8, 2016 at 7:11 AM

    The team has cap space next season to fit a record bonus in for Cousins, should he earn one. I’m sure they’d love to give it to him at that time, after he’s proven to be what they suspect he is. An article on CSN says the team will have roughly $48 million in space for 2017, even after the Norman and Reed contracts. I trust the front office to do what they need to.
    If Scot hits on a draft or two more, the team could be loaded with inexpensive talent and they have even more room. The future of the club is more about Scot being successful even more so than Cousins, odd as that sounds.

    • RuddyJamesDIO - Jul 8, 2016 at 7:25 AM

      We have Gallette, Garcon, Jackson, Cousin and I believe Bakers contract expiring….bye bye 48 million. No more money for us to acquire additional players if needed.

      • skinsgame - Jul 8, 2016 at 7:45 AM

        Galette is another “prove it” player. Baker is not going to break anyone’s budget. Garçon or Jackson (or both) were already going to be gone. Replacing aging, expensive vets with young, cheap draftees is Scots job. That was my point.

        • RuddyJamesDIO - Jul 8, 2016 at 9:15 AM

          4 of those 5 players will be back.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 8, 2016 at 3:02 PM

          I’m sorry but you’re wrong about Baker and Galette. I guess it depends on your definition of “break the bank” but Chris Baker will fetch a high wage on the open market if we don’t pay him. It’s amazing though, people want to be so careful of overpaying Cousins 2-4 million a year but are no nonchalant about signing everyone else.

          And building a team is more than assembling good talent on paper. Keeping together a core of guys who work well, get along, are leaders, and have chemistry is paramount. Baker is an important piece for intangible reasons.

          Junior Galette has proven himself on the field over years of good play. The only thing he has to prove is that he can stay healthy (and there’s countless examples of guys who stay healthy after a major injury). If he does, he’ll probably fetch a contract bigger than Kerrigan. He’s that good at a premium position. I understand if you haven’t watched a lot of Saints games in last couple years, but don’t kid yourself, he will be very expensive to resign. And if we don’t, our pass rushing core gets a lot weaker. We need more than just Kerrigan and Smith.

        • skinsgame - Jul 8, 2016 at 9:57 PM

          It’s still a “prove-it” deal for Gallette. Baker is not going to get elite money. If he does, let him walk. The team is better with him but defensive coordinators aren’t game planning for him.

      • lorcanbonda - Jul 9, 2016 at 2:14 PM

        Garcon and Jackson may stay at reduced contracts — Baker & Gallette won’t be as expensive as you make out. Plus, thanks to Norman’s contract structure, we have flexibility in later years to structure those contracts heavier in the 2nd & 3rd year.

        You don’t have to read tea leaves to recognize that Norman’s big year was designed to make DJax and Garcon too expensive in 2017. Plus, I think Cousins is receptive to the idea that he is good when the team around him is good. He won’t want to break the bank either.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 9, 2016 at 3:20 PM

          I agree with most of what you’re saying (I don’t know why it would be necessary to purposely push Garcon and Jackson out when they could just move on) but I think you’re wrong about Cousins. Obviously he knows he’s better when the team is better. Every player knows that. But this is still a business to players. It’s a job and they want to maximize their value. Young players are very unlikely I take less money to help the team. I’m sure he’s more concerned about his and his familie’s future than the team. And he should be.

  3. RuddyJamesDIO - Jul 8, 2016 at 7:18 AM

    Just sign the man. 50 million in guaranteed money isn’t squat if your going to pay him 22 million a year anyways. Its obvious the kid can play. What do we want to do as a team start over???…….and lose all the momentum we have going now. This team has turned the corner. Lets not put the brakes on it.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 8, 2016 at 3:55 PM

      Franchise tags are guaranteed too. Some would have us wait it out because we can just tag him again and “save money.” So wonderfully frugle of them. That would be about 44 mil guaranteed over 2 years, yet still no deal.

      They would risk the long term health and stability of the franchise to save 6 million. Even then, we could end up paying more by waiting. Or we risk losing Cousins, sewing discontent amongst him and his friends on the team, creating tension between the players and the front office staff, or having Cousins perform worse under the pressure. Yes, this all seems very worth it. These are the ideas of people who think running a franchise is like playing fantasy football.

  4. garg8050 - Jul 8, 2016 at 7:36 AM

    Both sides are taking a big, and somewhat unnecessary risk, by not getting a deal done. The QB market has been set by the recent deals. Even average QBs are getting paid $15-18 million per year. And Cousins is risking an injury or down year against a, at least on paper, tougher schedule…I hope both sides come to their senses and get a deal done.

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 8, 2016 at 7:55 AM

    Don’t know what to say.

    You need a crystal ball to make the correct choice.
    ~

  6. wvredskins - Jul 8, 2016 at 10:23 AM

    So what is the difference in the Redskins signing Josh Norman after one good year?! Pay the man and lets get on with it. If they do not pay them (Even though Kirk says he is willing to play under the tag) it could ruin this upcoming season. Just imagine every turnover or bad game Kirk has. That would have to eat at him. It puts alot of pressure on him to perform where as if they would just pay him, the pressure would be off and he would have the stability and could let it rip. Just PAY THE MAN and lets get on with it. Cause if I am Kirk, I would want the team to be 100% behind me. Them not paying him only shows that they are not quite there yet. HTTR

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 8, 2016 at 11:34 AM

      QB a bit more complex to evaluate, no?

      • wvredskins - Jul 8, 2016 at 12:25 PM

        Yeah I agree, a QB is a bit more complex to evaluate. But Josh Norman could easily lay a egg this year just as Kirk. Which I dont believe that will happen. All I am saying is, if you are behind Kirk 100%, then pay him. But I do understand it is a business and to put that kinda money on one person you would like to be sure.

        Lets say they are offering him 18 mill a year now and what ever amount they might be giving him for guarantee money. Thats alot of money in its own right to be giving a QB that you would like to see another year before paying the extra 4 million a year. no? Thats why I say pay the man.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 8, 2016 at 8:25 PM

          Which would be costlier? Paying him based on his small sample size, on his potential, and he turns out to be Rex Grossman OR paying him in excess of 20M a year, instead of the 16M they wanted him at, in order to further evaluate? Reed had solid campaigns since he’s been in the league, despite injuries, rewarded with an extension. Kerrigan solid years of production, despite having Orakpo on the sidelines most of the time, rewarded with an extension.Trent Williams anchoring the blindside and considered the best at his position, blocked well for an improvisational QB RGIII, rewarded with an extension. Everyone keeps saying “I just don’t see how…” Read the writing on the wall, that MADTV guy wants to see sustained production, probably especially if you aren’t one his guys, before he writes that check. 10 games is not sustained. He needs to look damn good to avoid the tag next year.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 9, 2016 at 11:50 AM

          And Josh Norman? He was one of McCloughan’s guys? I’m not saying that CBs and QBs are comparable, but since you brought up just about every ther position…

          To answer your question: I believe it will be more costly not to pay him now. In more ways than money, but in that too. That’s been the crux of my argument. We’re not talking a 10 year contract. Most of these contracts are set up so a team can walk after two years with a minimum cap hit or three years without any. That’s not so bad. But it’s also time, and stability, to find Cousins’ replacement if he’s not the guy. Because he’s the guy even if he’s not the guy. We’re not going to do better even if he fails next year but we can do worse. Keeping him around provides us the luxury of not falling into dysfunction while we hunt for the next guy. There’s a lot of intangible value to that.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 11, 2016 at 3:21 PM

          The crux of your argument is based on 19 games. Why are we bringing up Norman? We needed depth and veteran presence, he’s regarded as one of the best in the league. That fits the trend. I hope as much as the next person he performs next year because I don’t think the Redskins will have a problem cutting the check. There’s a lot of intangibles with this contract. Playing time has ACTUAL value, if Kirk was an established vet yeah he should put off by getting the tag. However he’s not. He has a handful of starts and the team that has the rights to his contract want to seem him do it again. Simple. If he’s worth the paycheck he’ll get it. If he goes out and stinks it up you’d rather sign him just because (insert manufactured response here). It’s not wise to make a 5 year investment based off 19 days.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 11, 2016 at 4:07 PM

          I brought up Norman as a counter example to the other players you listed. You said McCloughan wants to see prolonged production especially if you’re not his guy. Norman had exactly one great season. He’s been pedestrian the rest of his years and was considered the best last year but many would not consider him the best overall. It was a very clear counter example to your point.

          And it’s not a 5 year deal. I think you’re confused on how these contracts actually work. The money is only guaranteed for 2-3 years. Usually large sums the first 2 years them much small the third so they can be cut in year 3 with minimum cap damage. That’s the standard NFL contract. Once the money isn’t guaranteed, we can cut him. So we’re already paying him 20 mil in 2016 wether we sign or not. All this fuss you’re making is based on 1-2 more years. That’s it. With alllll that could go wrong in not signing him for 1-2 years of potentially overpaying a mediocre QB. But potentially locking up a franchise QB at a lower price than next year and removing the drama and distractions of the tag. It’s the right call.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 11, 2016 at 4:52 PM

          And again Norman has never been bad or inconsistent either. Just sustained success. He may not have always been regarded as the best in the league but he was no bum either. Every year he improved. Now it’s funny that you’ll get so wet over Niles Paul who had like 6 career receptions prior to his 39 catch campaign but can’t see Norman as an improving player. Norman who wasn’t beat out by every guy at his position. Norman who isn’t being asked to split time at another position to make room for an aging player ahead of him. Not as clear as you thunked it.

          It’s a 5 year deal with options. It may only go three but how was Luck’s contract reported? A 5 year deal. No one has the crystal ball to say whether or not it would go 5 years so my only confusion is why we would make such an investment in a player with a 19 game history? Whether or not we have the ability to walk away from it or not the point I’m making. Cousin’s demands clearly aren’t being met because his body of work doesn’t support it. Why sign him to a five year deal if you’re unsure of his ability? 5 year contracts are for proven players where you know they’ll be good and have the options in case they deteriorate or punch a chick in an elevator or something. Either way as they age you want to be able to get out of it in case they begin to wear down. NOT oh I’m going to sign this guy and if he’s good we’ll just pick up his option. If he was only going to be evaluated for 2-3 years they wouldn’t sign him to a 5 year and risk him slumming it up then getting injured and having to pick up his option. Especially hen you can sign him to a two-three year deal and evaluate him with minimal risk. So yeah I guess I am confused on how contracts work because apparently it’s a bunch of hoping a praying according to you.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 12, 2016 at 12:43 PM

          Again you’re completely missing my point and putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say anything bad about Norman and the comparison to the original point you made went right over your head. I think Norman is a rest player and I’m very excited to have him on my team.

          You also missed the point about contract. I know they’re all reported 5 year deals. My point was they rarely ever go to full term unless the guy is really worth it. There is a way to structure this deal so that Cousins gets most of his money in the first 2-3 years and could be cut after that. Essentially making it a 2-3 year deal that wouldn’t cripple the team long term. Again, the headline would read “Cousins gets monster 5 year deal.” But if you actually look at the details you would see it’s a 3 year deal at best. You seem unwilling to try and listen to anything anyone says or even keep up with the conversation. If we don’t agree now, I doubt we’re ever going to.

  7. bangkokben - Jul 8, 2016 at 11:28 AM

    The Redskins have enough to go on but don’t want to pay market price. It’s like going to a restaurant and thinking the Red Snapper looks good but you ask the waiter what is the market price and suddenly you’re hungry for steak. The fish still looks good but the market price is bringing some hesitation.

    Cousins for his CAREER has a 65.2% completion percentage, 47 TD, 30 INT, 7.6 yards per attempt, a 4.2% sack rate, and a 91.3 passer rating. Take those stats and project them over Rich’s suggested pass plays (625) and Cousins 2016 stats would look like:

    391 Comp
    599 Att
    65.3 Cmp %
    4552 Yds
    29 TD
    19 Int
    91.1 Rate
    26 Sacks

    That is the AVERAGE Cousins — not the 2015 version.

    The 22 top paid passers average a cap hit of $19,694,068.18 per season. At the beginning of free agency that would’ve likely got a deal with Cousins done. Now it’s close to $22 million a year. Of those 22 QBs, ONLY Drew Brees and Tony Romo have better career completion percentages. At the same time Cousins is tied at the bottom with Jay Cutler and Eli Manning with career interception percentage at 3.2%. Cutler and Manning are established vets while Cousins is trending upward with just a 2.0% in his last 543 attempts (2015) out of 950 total attempts.

    Let’s compare the comparable career stats of Eli Manning with Kirk Cousins. (Comp %, TD%, INT %, Y/A, and Sack %):

    Manning
    59.3%, 4.7%, 3.2%, 7.1, and 4.7%

    Cousins
    65.2%, 4.9%, 3.2%, 7.6, and 4.2%

    Over the totality of their careers, Cousins averages at or better then Manning in every comparable category. So even if he plateaus and resorts to his average instead of his entire 2016 form, the Redskins can afford to risk on paying him.

    Why? Because the Redskins can actually give Cousins more guaranteed money over the next two years then tagging him in back-to-back seasons while paying less on the salary cap and still have exit ramps after 2018..

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 8, 2016 at 3:14 PM

      And to build on your point (which was very good): it would be foolish to assume Kirk will completely revert to his 2012, 2013, and 2014 play. To assume that is to deny progress. Name me a QB who didn’t play better later in his career than when he was first learning. Or any player at any position.

      Now, players can have one spectacular season and then regress a bit. But they don’t suddenly forget how to read defenses, the intricacies of the offense, or anything else learned through taking multiple starting reps.

      Your point was that Cousins has never been bad. I would agree and say he’ll continue to play better than 2-3 years ago. So what are we really looking at? Stats somewhere slightly lower than 2015 at worst? And we can’t ignore how bad the team around him was early on. That must be factored in. We don’t know if Cousins will ever be great but it would be nonsensical to bet he becomes bad. It’s less of a risk to pay him now and see what happens than to bet against him.

    • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 8, 2016 at 11:36 PM

      I just don’t see why tagging him is considered betting against him. The Broncos bet against Osweiler. The Chargers gambled on Brees, bet against him and Graham. We bet against Alf and Amerson. The Panthers are betting against Norman. MADTV guy has made it clear that he wants Kirk as our QB. He gave Gruden or at least played part in getting the look at Kirk in 2015. Albeit shady it would’ve been better to declare it a competition so he could get some first team reps. Maybe then we’re not even having this conversation. It’s also not like the Skins are just twiddling their thumbs, they’re putting together a team around him. A team good enough that when it comes time for him to make that decision to stay or go, it’s a difficult one. Suring up that offensive line, hiring Bill Callahan. Assembling a dynamic, maybe the most dynamic, receiving core. A defense that’s going to get him the ball back more consistently. Either way Kirk has the entire organization’s vote of confidence they just aren’t seeing eye to eye with the money. Other unproven QB’s are taking short term deals, Kirk doesn’t want any. Pretty much every analyst by week 16 was saying he wasn’t going to take a team friendly deal. Wasn’t his agent’s MO. Now you can put CAREER in all caps but Ima call it what it is, 19 games. One a 6 game stretch in which he got himself benched for Colt. I’m not saying he doesn’t have a high ceiling. I certainly think he’s much better suited for Gruden’s offense than Robert was. I don’t care how other QB’s that looked great in their first 19 games compare to Kirk. Grossman, Campbell and Kaep weren’t trending to be what they are right now. The other Qb’s that you mentioned didn’t come on in a contract year either. Timing is everything and apparently the MADTV guy needs more of it to make a decision. Fans can meter success in short windows, we can afford to be wrong. I think sustainability is high on the list for Scot and to your point maybe the market value. I mean he’s not going to get any cheaper Scot has to know this. I think it’s a combination of that and wanting to see it at it’s optimal level. Hopefully Kirk wows us and we don’t have to have this constant thread on this subject anymore.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 9, 2016 at 2:40 AM

        All those players you mentioned: the franchises “bet against them” by releasing them. Not by having them as the most important player on the team. It’s not even comparable. When was the last time a QB played on the franchise tag? It doesn’t happen. It’s too important of a position to roll the dice on.

        And it’s stupid if Washington is holding out because they think he should take 18 mil instead of 20. That’s denying the current QB market.

        Also, all those pieces you named around Cousins are irrelevant. They 1) will amount to nothing without good QB play and 2) will be there where Cousins is or not. They’re not building the team just for him. They’re building it because it’s their job and they’ll get fired if they don’t.

        I’m sorry bud but you’re grasping at straws here. We’ve heard it all before and it’s simply illogical not to pay him. Even if he doesn’t work out, it will still have been the right choice. It’s a gamble either way. Bet on your guy having a good season. Not paying him is betting against him because it’s saying they believe he won’t perform like he did in 2015, so they can pay less next year. That’s how. Not exactly a statement of confidence. And it’s literally, literally, management 101 that happy employees who have heir bosses support perform better. Put doubt in a guys’s head and he won’t perform as well. This is about more than numbers.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 11, 2016 at 3:55 PM

          “All those players you mentioned: the franchises “bet against them” by releasing them. Not by having them as the most important player on the team. It’s not even comparable.” Well Trey that would be because that is what is considered being bet against. Not when someone says I want to see you do it again. Hopefully Kirk isn’t as hypersensitive as some of you all seem to be about tagging him.

          “When was the last time a QB played on the franchise tag? It doesn’t happen. It’s too important of a position to roll the dice on.” FANTASTIC QUESTION When was the last time a QB came on in his last rookie year with only sparse playing time before that? This is an unprecedented situation. I think if Kirk had been electric, lights out, maybe this is less of a debate. He wasn’t. He also demanded big money so I understand Scot’s position. If we could’ve got him 20/yr 3 years I think we would’ve done it. It hasn’t happened because he wants a contract his body of work doesn’t command yet. Yes, if I was a veteran with a resume of 50 or so starts I’d be a little insulted. But a guy that only has 19 starts was going to have to prove it, no matter his position. Period.

          “Also, all those pieces you named around Cousins are irrelevant. They 1) will amount to nothing without good QB play” So you’ve never heard of Trent Dilfer or Mark Sanchez? No our defense is not as prolific but we could get by on a game manager. Alex Smith has been in the playoffs every year for some time. The Texans did it a few years back with Schuab.
          “and 2) will be there where Cousins is or not. They’re not building the team just for him. They’re building it because it’s their job and they’ll get fired if they don’t.” They’re building the team around the position I should say. May not be Cousins if he comes out looking like he did last year. But building a team with as little holes as possible is definitely their job. Hell some would argue making the splash on a largely unproven QB could get him fired too if it backfired. That’s why we preach, patienceeee.

          “I’m sorry bud but you’re grasping at straws here. We’ve heard it all before and it’s simply illogical not to pay him. Even if he doesn’t work out, it will still have been the right choice. It’s a gamble either way.” This is literally grabbing at straws. Like if someone said “hey this guy told me I was grabbing at straws today but I don’t know what that means” I’d say well that’s when you just kind making arbitrary decisions in the hopes that it’ll pan out. Like paying a guy with a 19 game body of work a big contract just because it’s a “gamble” to wait a year to see if he can duplicate or improve.

      • bangkokben - Jul 9, 2016 at 11:47 AM

        You seem to think — like most folks — that the issue is prudence. The prudent thing to do is to wait a year (while paying a guaranteed $20 million) and see if Kirk can play another year at a similar rate. Then, if he does, the Redskins can pay him whatever is fair (likely around $24 million average per year). Truth be told, since the floor keeps rising this year (now around $22 million) and it’s hard to imagine it rising any further next year, what’s another $2 million a year?

        Up until this year, this was the way things got done. Then there was the Sam Bradford and Brock Osweiler deals.

        My version of prudence it different. To me, making a long-term deal NOW creates more cap space now and over the life of Cousins contract. To me, it is more prudent to assume that Cousins will not regress below his average and getting a deal done allows the organization more flexibility with the cap while committing to the position.

        Suppose the Redskins offered him a 5-year, $105 million deal, with $54 million in guarantees. How might that look? It’s all about the guarantees and how they’re structured but the cap hits can climb like stairs — starting in year one: $17 million, $19 million, $21 million, $23 million, and $25 million. These hits could have a $30 million signing bonus prorated at $6 million a year. The Redskins could then guarantee the 2016 base salary ($11 million) and the 2017 base salary for injury ($13 million).

        The Redskins would be committed to Cousins for three seasons paying him $54 million over the first two seasons but costing the cap just $36 million. The Redskins could part ways with Cousins, prior to year 4, if needed, saving $11 million and carrying a dead cap charge of $12 million.

        Bottom line: Cousins would get more money in the first two years than playing two years on the tag while the Redskins would save $8 million in cap space over those two tagged years and the organization would have a three year window to ensure that they have their guy. In addition, the organization would have MORE cap flexibility to improve the roster and stay well within the cap.

        Assuming Cousins has a successful year — because of all the things you mentioned — my scenario would pay Cousins a max of $105 million over five seasons while yours would pay Cousins a max of $140 million over six. Maybe that extra $35 million plus one season is negligible. To me, eliminating the uncertainty at the position is worth the risk. Cousins has shown enough to warrant getting paid. Better to pay him now at what is the market then have him succeed this year and make him the highest paid QB in the league.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 9, 2016 at 3:04 PM

          Yes. That’s exactly right Bang.

          To try and sum up our position: We’re trying to save money too, in the long run. But also remove contraversy and drama while supporting our guy and giving him every reason to succeed. No distractions. I want to save money too, but it’s about so much more than money and cap space.

          It’s also an insurance policy if Cousins doesn’t work out. It keeps him in the building until we find his replacement. So that we can take our time and not make another RG3 type mistake. Because, as I said (and no one even tried to dispute): Cousins is our best option; even if he regresses. Better to keep stability and continuity instead of spiral into dysfunction. The value of stability far outweighs the value of perceived cap savings. It’s about more than money.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 11, 2016 at 3:34 PM

          Okay so skimming through this I see a lot of numbers that are basically null in void due to the deals that have taken place. We all know his floor is and probably already was much higher than the 17M for the first year. Also seems like we forgetting that once his hot streak got some length to it all the analyst were even saying Kirk is going to want big money he’s not going to sign a team friendly deal. With that being known and the Skins modest offer it feels like they were intending on using the tag the entire time. Not willing to offer him that much. While I agree that that contract looks nice on paper with exit ramps and turnabouts we so frequently love it had been made clear that Kirk wanted to be locked in. Now your idea of prudence is based on an assumption. Albeit yes, he should thrive his second year as continuity should help him but, he’s only played 19 games. Scot can’t have his prudence based on the assumption that he’s going to get better. Especially since he had the tag in his back poclet. Now all Kirk has to do is prove your assumption right and earn that pay day. I was all for signing him to a 2-3 year deal or a five year deal with exit ramps and overpasses but he was never going to sign that. I remember seeing that on every telecast we played on that his agent has a reputation for going for the jugular not dink and donk contracts. Cousins plays well the Skins will cut the check. He plays shotty and once again he’s extended his reputation as being an up and down QB. IDK about moving on but I’m not sure I’d throw big money at him either.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 11, 2016 at 3:53 PM

          Nobody gets a 5 year contract in the NFL. They’re all 2-3 year deal. In the form of 5 year deals with those exit ramps after 2-3 years. All of them. That’s what guaranteed money is about. It’s really the only thing that matters in these deals. No team is going to give a guy guaranteed money over 5 years. Too much can happen. I would love to see an example of Cousins’ agent getting a player a contract guaranteed over 5 years.

          So I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken. Cousins and his agent aren’t asking for something that doesn’t exist. This would essentially be a 2-3 year deal. Which, including 2016, would really only be 1-2 years longer than what we’re doing now. Are all these distractions and potential of paying more next year really worth that?

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 11, 2016 at 4:08 PM

          and by two or three year deal I meant 1-2 with the option on the third like the other short term deals not 3 guaranteed with exit ramps. His agent wants big money. It was reported he wanted a big time deal not a team friendly deal like Bradford. Those are deals veterans with the body of work can command because you basically know who they are. We don’t know who he is yet so evaluate a year or two and then let him walk if he’s no good. Definitely cheaper than tagging him. Which is why I quoted a 3/year deal (thnking 18,19, opt 20) or maybe 21M I think he’s a least better than Bradford so one million more over what he’s getting. Not the elite or at least proven player 5 year contract you see top tier or soon to be top tier QB’s getting. We couldn’t get him to agree to a two so we’re forcing at least one year on him.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 11, 2016 at 4:52 PM

          ..and don’t tell me about morality clauses it was banter.

        • bangkokben - Jul 12, 2016 at 1:31 AM

          Its 25 games started and 30 games played. At the very least, Jay Gruden has had Kirk Cousins start in 21 of 32 regular season games he coached. They have enough on him in THIS offense.

          In a few days time, we will have one of two things: a) stability at the QB position or b) drama for the season. Because if there isn’t a long-term deal, we will be sick of hearing how every little thing relates to Kirk’s future and how much money his is winning or losing for himself.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 12, 2016 at 2:49 AM

          Let’s also not forget the 2012 Ravens. I don’t know exactly how much the team had to do with Flacco not getting a new deal before the season. But he didn’t. And Cousins’ agent took them to the house with that contract after the season. Baltimore could have saved a lot of money if they signed Flacco. People say Flacco didn’t take the contract and “bet on himself.” But I have to imagine he would have taken a certain number. And it probably would have been lower than what he ended up getting.

          The cap will only be higher next year. And Cousins will only have more leverage because of a 24 mil tag number and Washington still won’t have another option. At least one not remotely close to Cousins. Those are two big points of leverage for Cousins. People live in the fantasy where Cousins takes less money if he doesn’t perform as well in 2016. But what else is Washington going to do? Sign him or tag him? Then do it all over again the next year. It’s absurd. That would be a good plan if NFL players actually got paid what they’re worth. But that’s a fantasy. They use their market, scarcity at their position, and leverage to get big deals.

        • bangkokben - Jul 12, 2016 at 11:00 AM

          “People live in the fantasy where Cousins takes less money if he doesn’t perform as well in 2016.”

          This is where RG3dskin fans think they can hope for the teams success, #8’s poor performance, and a lower price Cousins in 2017. It’s pure insanity.

          Even if Cousins under performs, he is still the best FA QB available in 2017 and will be getting what the Redskins are offering this season by another team next season.

          Cousins may be betting on his self but plenty has to go wrong (poor performance all year followed by a horrific injury at the end of the year in addition to some unknown QBs emerging that will be FAs next year) for him to receive a worse contract offer than what was reportedly offered at the beginning of FA.

  8. Manny Whiteaker - Jul 8, 2016 at 2:14 PM

    Most the organization has known Kirk for 4 years and our core players seem to love him. Let’s pay him fair market value at the moment and take care of him. I have a feeling it will happen.

    Rich: A couple years ago there was a rumor about a d-lineman not happy with RG3’s play and it leaked out. Do you think this had to do with Kirk’s play on the practice field? I feel like a lot of players/staff have had confidence in Kirk prior to the starting roll.

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 8, 2016 at 2:26 PM

      Maybe. But after 2012 RG was playing poorly enough to warrant dissatisfaction regardless of how Cousins was doing.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 8, 2016 at 3:17 PM

        Rich: are you comfortable sharing with us what you would do in McCloughan’s shoes? Pay now (probably 20-22 mil with plenty guaranteed over 3 but an exit ramp after 2) or let it play out with the franchise tag?

  9. dikshuttle - Jul 8, 2016 at 2:29 PM

    No. Paying him now is gambling. Paying him later is net worth. So if you’re the confident bargain hunter, go ahead. But the ‘Skins haven’t fared well in that environment, so staying pat is the right play.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 9, 2016 at 3:05 PM

      Not paying him now is gambling too. But it’s bettering against our QB instead of betting on him. That’s a pretty undeniable fact.

  10. smotion55 - Jul 8, 2016 at 6:57 PM

    [Snip]

    Cousins will play good this year and Snyder will have to pay again on the tag and then I hope Cousins walks.

    [RT here. I edited out the all caps part. No need to come in here and yell. That’s against the rules here.]

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 8, 2016 at 8:14 PM

      I don’t think RG3 has anything to do with this. It’s kind of strange would would even draw that connection. Obviously Snyder has SOMETHING to do with this, but I significantly doubt he’s blocking the deal. He’s just writing the check. Cousins success is the best thing that could happen for Snyder.

  11. COSkinsFan - Jul 8, 2016 at 8:08 PM

    I think Cousins will only get better. I lived in Michigan and saw him at state. His senior season was a down year. I saw him predicted as the top qb the year before. I agree with the Norman comment. I don’t see how you can preach about culitivating and taking care of productive players and then pay Norman and not pay Cousins, especially when we have young ascending corners. I think Jackson, Garcon, and Baker will be gone next year unless they give us a discount. Smith is an ascending player so I’m not sure they will want to pay JR his market value next year assume he stays healthy and does well. I think the n

    • COSkinsFan - Jul 8, 2016 at 8:10 PM

      ew regime will know when to cut ties with older players rather than overpay for sentimental reasons. That’s how the patriots have been successful for so long.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 9, 2016 at 3:16 PM

      I’m fine with letting Garcon and Jackson go. Particularly Jackson. I would prefer to keep Garcon, because I think he is still very valuable, but I won’t be upset if we cut him lose. Drafting Doctson was a brilliant insurance policy. His qualities are much more like a prototypical pro bowl WR than either Jackson or Garcon. We will still have a good corps of pass catchers with Crowder, Doctson, Reed, and Paul. Then who knows who else we get? I would prefer more length in our receivers anyway.

      I think we have to retain Baker though. Unlike WR or CB, we don’t have a group of young and talented guys to replace him. The interior Dline has been criminally ignored in the draft. We have to retain whatever talent we have.

      On that note: the only solid group in our front seven is our OLBs. It just so happens it’s also a premium position. Possibly the most valuable on defense. We’ve learned, over and over, that two edge rusher aren’t enough. We need insurance against injury, illness, fatigue, suspension, free agency, or anything unforeseen. This defense has a shot of getting significantly better because of two main pieces: Gallette and Norman. If Gallette can be his old self (or even close to it) and also a good teammate then we shoul give him a big deal regardless of Smith. A deal with only 2-3 years of guaranteed money would lock him up until it’s time to pay Smith. Hopefully we’ve drafted a couple more promising edge rushers by then.

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