This week on the SB Nation network, each team site is asking themselves the question: Who is the one player you can’t afford to lose? I know some managing editors have looked at it as a question of which player would hurt the most to lose to injury at this point in the season (cough...Carson Wentz...cough). The Redskins have already lost a dozen or so starters to injured reserve, and with no shot at the playoffs, there is no injury that would ruin the season. (A crushing injury to a fan favorite always hurts, and could potentially damage 2018 chances, but that is not how I am approaching this question.)
To me, the Redskins organization has a franchise quarterback in a contract year. I am not aware of many teams that can suffer the loss of its franchise quarterback from one year to the next and still improve. (Damn it Dak...you’re kind of killing me here.)
Listen, this article has been written countless times since 2015, and I am not going to take you through 1,500 words on the topic...again. We have gone through the numbers, and we have gone through the emotional debates—relentlessly. (This will serve as the explanation as to why this post isn’t full of all those numbers and stats.) I rarely exercise the privilege, but in this case, I will:
The official position of Hogs Haven is that Kirk Cousins must be paid and brought back to the Redskins if the team is to have any chance of progress and contention. It’s the single most responsible move the Redskins can make to maintain relevance in the division, conference and league.
We drafted him. We developed him. He turned into the best quarterback anyone reading this has ever seen play in a Redskins jersey (nobody reading this saw Sammy Baugh play did they?)
Quarterback contracts are more about timing than anything else. The next elite guy due to ink a deal is naturally going to get what the market dictates. While the Redskins exercised their right to make Kirk play on one-year deals to “prove it,” they also made the choice to pay the market rate for a guy who has produced. Prices don’t go down, but luckily for the NFL, salary caps do go up. There is always room in your salary cap for a franchise quarterback. Always.
This isn’t to discount or marginalize those of you who feel strongly that Kirk is not the guy. You are entitled to your opinion, but some of you need better arguments when stating that opinion. Kirk Cousins produces at the quarterback position. He isn’t wearing that Super Bowl ring that we all want to see, but to hold him personally responsible for that in the midst of the roster and coaching turnover the Redskins have had over the last few seasons would be a bit short-sighted. More than that, Kirk has steadily improved as a football player as long as he has been playing for us. We have every reason to believe that will continue to be true, no matter what his paycheck says.
Just as you don’t pay a guy nine figures on the strength of one performance, you can’t look at one game and refuse to pay a guy. If you review Kirk’s work here in Washington since taking over as the full-time starter, it is hard to credibly suggest he hasn’t been at least an above average quarterback. That is understating it in my opinion, but I want to be inclusive of everyone here, and I think you can always legitimately debate whether someone is elite or not—drawing the line north of “above average” seems pretty unassailable to me.
All of that said...it’s all assailable. Haha. I am preparing to be assailed. To be fair, I know some of you have pretty compelling arguments about why you might move on from Kirk Cousins that don’t necessarily have to do with his play or his worth. I am open to those discussions, but I will be entering them with the position that the Washington Redskins can not afford to lose their franchise quarterback, Kirk Cousins.