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Offseason On the Brink: Tag Two of Three?

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On this week’s presentation of Offseason On the Brink, The Audible enjoys a multi-million dollar game of tag.

GAP Open Their First Outlet In Indonesia Photo by Dimas Ardian / Getty Images

To those that have listened to Hogs Haven’s official Redskins podcast before, you know that without the “Spirit of Sonny,” most of these shows would still be loads of fun to do. That said, at this critical juncture of the Redskins entire existence, doing a podcast without whiskey present just seems irresponsible.

In lieu of bullet points, here is a show-inspired stream of consciousness...old-school HH style.

Kirk Cousins is the Redskins quarterback under contract for the 2017 season at the moment, and as long as that is the case, our train stays on the tracks and we keep chugging for the next station. For those of you who may want to travel beyond the next station, no worries...it will just cost you a cool $35 million. We’ll be spending countless days and hours and pixels beating this up over the coming months, but I wanted to expand on something we touched on in last night’s show.

Last year, after the first franchise tag was applied to Kirk, I mentioned on The Audible that we were staring at a second tag (thanks for reminding me Kevin). I am here to tell you the following: if you don’t think the Redskins would consider tagging Kirk a third time—depending on how the 2017 season goes down—you simply haven’t been paying attention.

The mere thought of paying a guy as much as $35 million for one season is beyond vomit-inducing for most salary capologists, and just about every rational front office. When you are in the business of going year-to-year on your (franchise) quarterback however, you get mighty comfy with paying gobs of money to the guy who sits #1 and #2 on your single-season yardage list. Do not take this to mean I am calling for us to go this route—I’M NOT. (I am also not not calling for it.)

A lot is going to happen between now and next March, but almost nothing is going to happen between now and July 15th—at least that is what I think. Maybe a long-term deal gets done. Maybe it doesn’t. Count me among those who feel like $24 million is a fine amount to allocate in a season to a quarterback that most people would suggest ranks somewhere around #10 in the league at the position, give or take a few spots (if we must debate this point, please understand I think this is a fair and broad summary of popular opinion across all the sports networks and sites).

And if...AND IF...Kirk Cousins has a solid season that sees him lead the Redskins back to the playoffs out of a tough division, count me among those who believe the Redskins would ABSOLUTELY tag him again. Here’s why:

If you add up the three years worth of tags (roughly $44 million for 2016 and 2017, and then approximately $35 million for 2018) and then divide by three, you are talking about an average per year of about $26 million the Redskins would have paid for a player at a key position that has produced. That is just a hair above what the world—and more importantly, Kirk’s agent—thinks the quarterback should be making. Mind you, it would be one of the more asinine ways a franchise went about paying top-dollar to one of their best players, but the Redskins already hold some of the top spots on that list, so......yeah. You would almost even be able to see it work the way most contracts work too—backloaded with savings up front. (The most amazing part of all of this is that the Redskins wouldn’t go over $15-$16 million per year in their long-term offers a year or so ago, yet they would end up paying $10 million MORE per year anyway. You think Kirk is stupid now?)

One of the biggest risks an organization assumes when it inks $100+ million contracts is the injury risk. When you are going year-to-year, injury risk (otherwise known as “the way football works”) becomes a far lesser concern. Of course, losing a guy you are paying $35 million stings—I would liken it to getting bit in the nads...by a hippo—but your salary cap situation the following year would be honky-dory. (You know how to recognize true insanity? It’s when someone starts justifying paying a guy $35 million for one season.)

The Redskins have proven they care a great deal about winning in the offseason. They want to win on this whole situation (even though this attitude pits them against the best quarterback most of us have ever seen in burgundy and gold). If there is any truth to the speculation that Kirk is simply driving this matter towards a trade to a team he wants to go to (San Francisco), you have to understand that Dan Snyder is going to probably go to great lengths to prevent that outcome. It would make him look foolish, and it would all add up to a huge loss for his organization. You think Snyder wouldn’t pay up to maintain control over this matter? He has paid far more to achieve far less.

It is true that Kirk holds pretty much all the cards here in terms of how much he makes, but not necessarily in terms of where he plays. Until and unless the Redskins flinch in their desire to drive the price of quarterbacks north of $50 million per year, Kirk has to know he is staying in town. We will continue to remain vigilant in our watch for a long-term contract, but maybe we should stop holding our breath. And maybe the lack of a long-term contract is no longer the one-way ticket out of town we originally thought it would be. On the flip side, if Kirk comes to understand he is not as close to unrestricted free agency as he thinks he is, that could drive him and his agent to the table. After all, at some point, the injury risk he is assuming as a player nearing the age of 30 will or should cause him to want a deal that would lock in as much as he can lock in.

Until that point, we have a quarterback. Just because he is not locked up for the long haul doesn’t make him less a part of our plans. It only continues the long tradition the Redskins have established of doing things...unconventionally (is that a nice enough way of putting it?).

In the game of tag, the Redskins see themselves as huge winners.