Posted on May 24, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When the Washington Redskins traded a boatload of draft picks to select Robert Griffin III in the 2012 Draft, they believed they had the quarterbacks of the future. If there is one thing a team must have, it is just such a quarterback. While he looked like he might fit the bill as a rookie, time proved that RG3 wasn’t going to be that guy.
So, in came the Kirk Cousins Era.
While it has been good, it has been far from great. That is probably why the Redskins have been so leery of making the kind of long-term deal that would lock Cousins down. Do they take the chance on him and believe he can be the man for the next decade? Has he done enough to prove he can be that guy?
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Yes and no, but in the end, they are going to realize what an expensive mistake they made by not signing him to an extension following the 2015 season.
As the salary cap has gone up, so has the asking price for a quality starting quarterback. If it weren’t for how high the price tag has escalated in recent years, it probably wouldn’t have been too hard for the Redskins and Cousins to have found common ground.
But they haven’t. The Redskins didn’t want to mortgage the future by promising the next Nick Foles, Matt Flynn, or Matt Cassel a boatload of money only to find out later he was who they feared he was—a guy not worth a dinghy full of pennies.
So, they played the delay game and hit him with the franchise tag not once but twice. By delaying a long-term contract, they force him to prove his worth by proving he can play well from week to week.
It’s an understandable train of thought. However, in the process, the Redskins set the floor for negotiations pretty high. After getting paid $19.95 million in 2016 he’ll make $23.94 next season (fourth highest) for an average of roughly $22 million a season over the last two.
By hitting him with the franchise tag the last two years, the Redskins have made the floor for negotiations at least $22 million if not $23.94 million—top five money. But is he a top five player?
Cousins may not have led the Redskins back to the playoffs last season, but what success they did enjoy was because of him and the passing game. While he did have four fewer touchdown passes and one more interception, he also averaged over 300 yards a game. Not too many guys can claim they have done that.
So–Is he worth the money? Absolutely! Tack on the instability and lackluster play the franchise has had at quarterbacks ever since the early 90’s and you have to wonder why they haven’t made him the right offer yet.
The last time the Redskins had any quality and consistency at quarterback was the Mark Rypien Era (52 starts out of 64 possible from 1990-93). Since then, the Redskins have more than 20 starting quarterbacks, and not a single one that lasted three full seasons.
Cousins gives them some much-needed talent at quarterbacks and the potential for stability at the most valuable position in the game for the first time in nearly three decades. While the team has yet to make a good enough offer, they must see his importance and value if they are truly willing to hit him with the franchise tag a third time as team president Bruce Allen claims.
This would mean guaranteeing Cousins a $34.47 million payday next season. At the least, if they don’t sign him to an extension and want to try to keep him, they will use the transition tag on him and guarantee a $28.72 million payday.
So, with the potential to make a guaranteed $52.6-58.4 million over the next two seasons, why would Cousins accept anything less right now? Tack on last season’s salary and we are talking about Cousins making somewhere in the neighborhood of $72-78 million over three years.
By not making him a sufficient deal last season, the Redskins have driven the price up. By talking about being okay with using the franchise tag on him again, they have hiked it up even more. They could have had him for $20-21 million/season last year. Now they’ll be lucky to get him for $25 million/season.
Of course, Cousins could come away with nothing next season if he gets hurt or has a bad season this year, but he has already shown he is willing to bet on himself.
With the kind of money potentially on the table (and $44 million in the bank minus his agent’s cut) can you blame him?