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Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays

The Kirk Cousins contract saga is the gift that keeps on giving to sports talk outlets.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

1. Happy Monday, y'all. There is something about this week that feels fresh and new, even though when it comes to the NFL, July 11th could hardly be called either. I said it in the #5OCC, I do believe big news is coming our way this week. Everyone assumes that means I think Kirk Cousins will ink a long-term deal before Friday (the 15th), but that is not the case. I do believe it is possible, and I have always assumed that it would happen, but all reports at this time suggest that no contract will be agreed to before the deadline. This is not the outcome I wanted back in February, when I thought we had a chance to put a pretty solid deal together, but as we all know, the positive aspect of this is the Redskins control Cousins' immediate future, including having to potentially franchise him again. After all, paying him $40-45 million in two seasons is not that far away from what they would have had to pay him in guaranteed money on a new deal--at this point, it is probably less.

2. Have you ever had a dream seem so real that you swore it was real? In the middle of the night, drifting between deep sleep and moments of restless contemplation, that dream stays in your the point where you lose track of whether it was actually a dream or if it was something that actually happened. I'm not talking about ih8dallas wondering if, in fact, he is married to Kate Upton. I'm not talking about Ewoldt staring at the ceiling trying to ascertain how he got to be lead guitarist for Motley Crue. Last night, I had a dream that the Redskins had traded Cousins to the St. Louis Rams. I actually started to get out of bed to write a story on the breaking news. I told my wife that we had "done it again." I was visibly upset and desperately wanted to take it out on Dan Snyder, as reports suggested that he shipped off the quarterback because Kirk wouldn't sign a below-market deal. For the rest of the night, every dream came back to this new reality. Our compensation? A first and second round pick in the next draft. The best part was that after I fully woke up and my feet hit the ground for the day, I wondered, "Could McLovin really make that deal worth it for us?" Perhaps from the standpoint of talent, our gifted personnel man could have made the team better overall, but the prospect of entering the 2016 season with Colt McCoy as our starting quarterback--because of spite--made my blood boil. (I feel like Ryan Fitzpatrick would get signed so fast to our team, our heads would spin.) Anyway, reading that a long-term deal with Kirk seems unlikely at this point is WAY better than waking up to find out he's been traded. See? It's a good news day, Jim! (Okay, so the Rams are in Los Angeles now, and not St. Louis, which should have been a dead giveaway. That, plus the fact that I was alerted to the news of the trade on my Lear jet full of Victoria's Secret models should have cleared up any confusion about whether this was a dream or not. It just all seemed so plausible.)

3. As I said last week on The Audible, at this point, the team is probably content to slide the injury risk over to Kirk's side of the table in 2016. There are very few pesos that can be saved by signing him to a long-term deal at this point. If you believe that the Redskins could tag him again (I do), some could argue they would actually SAVE money over the two-year period, which seems outrageous, but could potentially be accurate, depending on how much guaranteed money it would take to do the deal today. I love when players bet on themselves, and the payoff for the quarterback when he successfully does it is potentially gargantuan (see: Joe Flacco). Still, when it comes to playing a high-stakes game of poker on the football field, there are way too many things out of your control--like the manner in which 300-pound defensive linemen are trying to hurt you. My belief that Kirk would sign a deal before now was always predicated on the notion that--should he get injured--he could have locked in more guaranteed money by doing so. On the flip side, if he does play on a one-year deal and survives unscathed, he will actually SIGNIFICANTLY increase his guaranteed haul. He'll get his $20 million this season, and then the meter will start all over again on a new deal. Let's say he crushes it in 2016...crushes it. His new deal could come with $60 million in guarantees or more, meaning he could pocket somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million (on the high side maybe) in cash for playing this right. This leads me to ask: shouldn't we WANT our quarterback to be playing with this kind of thing on the line?

4. I suppose my point about the "lost opportunity" for the team has everything to do with salary cap space. To be fair, I am saying that this point ranks low. After all, if you have a quarterback playing at a high level, he is more than worth his share of the pie. Still, to illustrate the point and just for the sake of argument, let's say that the team could have inked the 5-year, $90 million contract with $35-40 million guaranteed that I argued would have gotten it done back in March. (Reports suggest the Redskins were never at this level if and when this could have been done.) The average annual salary cap hit would have been less than $20 million, as opposed to the likelihood that a contract today would hit closer to an average hit of about $24 million per year or more. It is never as simple as doing easy math, but that difference is significant when it comes to signing a free agent. Ignoring rookie contracts, a couple names jump off the page when you wonder what you could do with that space. For example, Jordan Reed's new contract eats up about $9 million of cap space his first two years. That is kind of a big deal. You could take a chance on a free agent like Kendall Reyes or Ricky Jean-Francois. In my humble opinion, I just think that had the Redskins been more aggressive at the outset of free agency with Kirk, McLovin could have had some cap space to play with, and he is good enough to have made that matter.

5. Here is where the two main camps start to really differ. Salary cap be damned, plenty of rational Redskins fans (like Tim) believe that Kirk Cousins has to show more to get the dough. All of you who think that are feeling pretty validated at this point, as the Redskins are set to make him earn his money. I think I would like to suggest that I am not arguing against the idea of proving it on the field. Instead, I am arguing that he has already proven it. My point is this: nobody knows Cousins better than the Redskins. They have watched him work since 2012; they have watched him evolve; they have watched him endure the sticky RG3 saga. If we don't "know" about this guy at this point, to me that is saying we know he is not the guy. I argue that the team could have rewarded him months ago with a deal that would have looked rich the day he signed it, but would have only looked better and better every day after. This assumes, of course, that Kirk would have accepted such a deal back in March (when the Skins were reportedly $2-3 million or more behind the market). In other words, you could have gotten Cousins for Sam Bradford money instead of Andrew Luck money. Once again, this underlines that the Redskins front office has been far more aligned with those among us who are insistent that Cousins prove it in 2016 to get his deal. When he does prove it in 2016, he is going to get his money and we are all going to celebrate. One of the main reasons I love this debate is that it is a simple matter of when you pay a guy. It is not about whether we love or hate a player--we pretty much all love our guy. It is not about whether we keep or cut a player--the Redskins control Cousins now and into the future. In short, this entire argument is our graduation to rooting for a rather solid team. We are close...real close. We are splitting hairs on when to lock in the most important player on our roster--which means we might actually have a "real" franchise quarterback. For the first time in decades, we will hit an offseason very soon where we can actually say we are "one player away." These are incredible times!

6. Speaking of incredible times, The Audible tapes on a Monday this week. Continuing in our series of offseason player debates, we are back on the offensive side of the ball this week, ranking our all-time favorite wide receivers/tight ends. I think this one is going to be the hardest one yet, because of the grouping together of two spots that have had some amazing talent over the years. That is why they pay us in steak sandwiches, folks--we aren't afraid of the hard jobs. Other topics to cover this evening include:

  • Why are people questioning the physicality of our defensive line (besides our lackluster run defense in 2015 and the absence of a hard and fast top three guys to solve that problem)?
  • Is DeAngelo Hall potentially a game-changer at safety this season? Despite our concerns about his age and size, I have this suspicion that he could benefit greatly from the upgrade at cornerback we have made.
  • What should our realistic expectation be for Vernon Davis?
  • Who is more elite: 2011 Joe Flacco or 2015 Kirk Cousins? (hahahaha)