Kirk Cousins is set to become a free agent after this season comes to a conclusion, and the 2016 offseason begins. The Redskins are set to enter 2016 with no quarterback under contract, but with the opportunity to still pick up Robert Griffin's fifth year option - which has about as much chance of happening as Donald Trump being elected president.
For or a team that has struggled(to put it mildly) to find consistency at quarterback, the Redskins need to seriously consider re-signing Kirk Cousins before he hits free agency in 2016. Here are the reasons why:
Productivity: Kirk has show he can be a productive NFL quarterback with the appropriate support around him. This past offseason, the Redskins went out and hired one of the best offensive line coaches in the game - Bill Callahan. McCloughan then went out and gave Callahan a stud offensive linemen to pair with Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, in top draft pick Brandon Scherff. Callahan went on to develop second year players Morgan Moses and Spencer Long into solid starters, and now the Redskins have one of the biggest, youngest and nastiest lines in the NFL. With this revamped offensive line, Cousins has been sacked just 9 times, while completing 67 percent of his passes for 1954 yards, 10 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Even with limited weapons at wide receiver, and without one of his top tight ends, Kirk has show the ability to lead his team, including multiple fourth quarter comebacks, and a few other near misses. The interceptions are still troublesome, but at least 3 of his 9 are the fault of his wide receivers and bad bounces. Still, he'll need to work on cleaning up that part of his game, and I believe he can and will with more game experience.
Leadership: By all accounts, Cousins is a good leader both on the field and in the locker room. This team needs an identity and a general to follow, and Kirk is a guy teammates can rally around and get behind. He seems to be gaining a good grasp of Gruden's offense, and has shown improvement week after week. Once he completely grasps the mental part of the game, he can become even more confident, vocal and effective.
Besides what he does on the field, Cousins is a great leader off the field as well. He doesn't get wrapped up in social media, and draw any type of negative attention to himself. Rather, he quietly involves himself in the community with various charities he's involved in, and gives support to the orginazation in many positive ways, such as being a youth mentor, and an NFL advocate against domestic violence.
Physical Attributes: Cousins may not be the biggest, fastest quarterback in the league, but he has plenty of athletic ability. Kirk displayes a very strong arm, and can very easily make all the NFL throws. He shows good pocket presence, and can extend plays with his feet when needed. We've see Cousins execute the read option when called upon to do so, and it's this added dimension of his game that often goes unnoticed. He's also proven to be durable, and we all know availability is the best ability.
Contract: Kirk Cousins is making a little under $800K this season. Unlike many players entering free agency for the first time, Kirk is not going to command a huge contract. Washington may be the best fit for him due to his familiarity with the system. A three year, cap-friendly deal should be able to be reached to keep him in D.C. We can probably sign Kirk for the next three seasons, for the same price it would have cost the team to keep Griffin for just 2016. If he over-achieves, the team can choose to reward him with a new contract after a year or two. If he proves he's not the long-term answer, he can be released. Keeping Cousins around allows the team to go out and improve other areas of immediate need on this team like defensive back, wide receiver, defensive line and linebacker, all while remaining competitive in the NFC East.