- It is officially July, and while my focus is firmly on the 4th, there is also this other thing that is sort of creeping up on us. That’s right, on July 4th, in addition to celebrating the awesomeness of the U!-S!-A!, we are also less than two weeks away from...the deadline.
- While talk continues to center around whether or not Kirk wants to be here, I feel like there are a couple of other more important aspects that I would rather focus on prior to the deadline. I honestly don’t believe reports that suggest there is “no amount of money Kirk would take to stay in Washington.” That is an absurd statement to make, and completely lacking common sense. After all, of course there is an amount of money he would accept to stay here. What we don’t know is if the Redskins have offered him that amount of money or—more importantly—if the Redskins would ever offer him that amount of money. We’re going to find out in the next two weeks!
- On one hand, Kirk doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who spends his money like Lloyd Christmas on a shopping spree in Aspen. He is on the receiving end of almost $45 million GUARANTEED—for two years of work. He is likely set for life and I could be led to believe his decision process is at least partially driven by emotion. If that is true, than it could also be said that his emotional attachment to Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen is likely not one that would cause him to take any discounts. Understood. His emotional attachments to guys like Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan could be strong enough to make him at least get to the point of seeing what could happen. I get it. Let’s be crystal clear on this: the Redskins created the potential for that to even be a remote possibility. They did this by putting him on a “prove-it” deal two years ago and then not negotiating in good faith beyond that (more on this below). They did this by not having the foresight necessary to see where the market was going on quarterbacks in the timeframe they were about to be operating in—I mean, if a no-brains, half-wit like me was writing about this in 2015, it was known. The kind of money it would have taken to sign him to a long-term deal in 2015 was peanuts compared to what was always coming, and there is no excuse for not knowing that.
- On the other hand, playing quarterback in the NFL is a dangerous job. My guess is he pays higher life insurance premiums than the rest of us. If and when he can guarantee him and his family the kind of payday that secures the future of the Cousins clan for generation upon generation...he strikes me as the kind of person smart enough to take it. What we will all start disagreeing on (or continue disagreeing on) is how much the “market” is involved in securing Kirk Cousins VI’s future. That is to say, what kind of mega-deal is insulting and what kind of mega-deal is worth bypassing the chance to see other offers in the next offseason? This is where my problem with the way the Redskins have handled this lives.
- The Redskins have done nothing but chase the market on their own guy for over two years...and they have done the chasing from quite a distance away. None of us have been in the negotiating room, but I think there is enough known about the process to believe that the Redskins have both extended below-market offers to Kirk and rejected a close-to-market deal that the Cousins camp sent their way (the alleged 3-year, $60 million deal within the last year). Part of the problem with the way the Redskins have operated is that they are kind of getting rewarded—in the short term. Just as I thought $19 million was a steal last season, I think $24 million is completely reasonable to pay a franchise quarterback this season (and I said that before David Carr got his money). This all means that the Redskins have yet to be punished for their strategy in retaining Kirk Cousins. The punishment is deferred. It is even true that the punishment may never be dealt, because of the constant presence of injury risk, but all that means is that you are betting your guy is going to get waylaid before he becomes a free agent. None of this is pushing the Redskins to the altar with any kind of urgency, which is at least partly confusing since it is Kirk Cousins holding just about every card in the deck.
- I hope we are past the point of “Is he worth it?” I hope we can look around the NFL and understand that our guy is a franchise quarterback. If you don’t believe that, just wait until any other team in the league has a chance to bid on him. There is no better setup in the league for him than here, where Jay Gruden has tailored an offense around him. While I understand that the front office “wanted to be sure” about him, and while I totally get that the two tags don’t break the bank even a little bit, any regret the franchise might wear at the end of this is completely on them. And yet, despite where the market is right at this very second, I still believe that the salary cap is—and always will be—able to fit a franchise quarterback. As I have said before, this is still Christmas morning in “A Christmas Carol,” and Dan Snyder is Ebenezer Scrooge—he hasn’t missed it! He can still front for the biggest turkey hanging in the window, with enough left over to fill the plate with everything necessary to cook a complete meal (you know, a defense and an offensive line...was that analogy clear?). In the next two weeks, we will learn a lot about our future, but one thing is certain: the 2017 Redskins will be helmed by Kirk Cousins, and for now, that is enough to be excited about. On this week’s taping of The Audible, we will do our best to focus on the present. Next week we can freak out about the future.
Happy July 4th!