The Washington Redskins may still be deciding whether to sign Kirk Cousins to a long-term contract, but the quarterback has enough information to know that’s a bad idea.

Cousins has the nice-guy role down pat right now, saying the money doesn’t matter, raving about his new teammates, and playing nice with his negotiators, but that can change in an instant.

After all, the NFL is a business.

The sixth-year quarterback and his current club have until Monday, July 17, to come to an agreement on a new contract, or the 28-year-old will be forced to play his second straight season under the franchise tag.

If the Redskins functioned like an average NFL team, Cousins would have been locked up by now. But that’s not what Washington offers; they bring dysfunction to a whole new level.

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While some may argue he’s had success because of his system rather than his skills, Cousins has proven to be a very competent quarterback in Washington, with back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons that included winning records. He led the team to a top-three offensive finish in 2016, but while others scramble for anything resembling a franchise quarterback, the Redskins refuse to admit they may have one.

This could be a blessing in disguise for Cousins, who can escape from a team that can’t get out of its own way and may not even want him.

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Cousins has been loyal to a team that essentially drafted him to be Robert Griffin III‘s backup, and has refused to commit to him since he more or less saved them from the painful RG3 fallout.

As time moves on and his sample size increases, his team can no longer say they’re still waiting to see if he can be their leader.

Derek Carr has put up comparable numbers to Cousins’ over the last two seasons and carries a similar off-field attitude, and the Oakland Raiders just made him the highest-paid player ever.

QB GP since 2015 Yards TDs INTs Record
Derek Carr 31 7924 60 19 19-13
Kirk Cousins 32 9083 54 23 17-14-1

There are plenty of arguments to make between Carr and Cousins, and why one deserves more money than the other, but with the state of the current quarterback market, the Washington passer should have at least gotten a contract with more security by now.

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He has no reason to reward the Redskins for their slow pace of appreciation, since their waiting has put the control in his hands by now.

Cousins claims you should shame him if he bases his life around money, but please don’t. It’s every player’s right and, to a degree, responsibility to take as much money as they can to increase the salaries of their peers. NBA players have been wildly successful with this strategy, and it’s time football players do their part for one another.

In this case, Cousins can give the Redskins two options that will guarantee him more money, and both involve him playing under the franchise tag this season.

If Cousins plays out the year well enough that Washington feels it needs to keep him, the team has already admitted they’re willing to use a third straight franchise tag if necessary. That tag would pay Cousins at least $26 million and force the team to either pay him all that money or give him a higher-paying contract.

His other option would simply be to hit the open market as a free agent, which is what he should hope for. Cousins wouldn’t have to play for Washington under its umbrella of dysfunction anymore, and, as Brock Osweiler and Mike Glennon proved, quarterbacks can be massively overpaid on the free-agent market.

Assuming Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford re-up with their current teams, Cousins would be the prized target of any team looking for a quarterback who can play from Day 1. By that time, the storied San Francisco 49ers or Pittsburgh Steelers could be looking for a new passer.

At the end of the day, Cousins has to smell something fishy in his relationship with Washington, and while he likes to be a good team player, he needs to look out for himself and avoid getting locked into a dysfunctional long-term relationship.

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