As the most dysfunctional team in football, the Washington Redskins couldn’t just let Monday’s franchise-tag deadline pass without incident – they had to make a mess of it.
According to reports, quarterback Kirk Cousins and the club were not expected to reach an agreement before the deadline for the second year in a row, an NFL first for quarterbacks. Cousins had played the nice guy role, claiming he wasn’t going to base his life around money and that he thought everyone was on the same page during negotiations. However, that may not be as true as once thought.
It’s completely within Cousins’ rights to want to be paid lucratively, but the Redskins went out of their way Monday to make their quarterback look greedy (just a reminder: no matter how much money players make, owners and teams make more).
In a statement from team president Bruce Allen, Washington claimed to have offered Cousins a deal that would have given him the highest amount of guaranteed money at signing by a quarterback in NFL history, $53 million. It’s a misleading statement, as 1) Eli Manning got $54 million guaranteed, according to Spotrac, and 2) Cousins was already in a position to get that much guaranteed, if not more.
Under his 2017 franchise tag, Cousins will earn $23.94 million, fully guaranteed. If the Redskins use the franchise tag on him again in 2018 – which they are admittedly open to – Cousins would receive a total of $58.42 million between 2017 and 2018, according to MMQB’s Albert Breer. If Washington uses the transition tag on Cousins in 2018, he would be guaranteed over $52.68 million over the next two years.
In the statement, the team also claims the offer extended to Cousins would have given him the second-highest average annual value for quarterbacks. But that too is misleading, as the offer was made on May 2, before Derek Carr became the most recent highest-paid player in NFL history.
The statement reeks of desperation and an attempt to save face for Washington, mixing in insinuations that Cousins was too greedy in negotiations with vaguely supportive phrases hoping fans won’t side with the player.
- “Kirk is obviously important to our team and fans”
- “They deserve to know where things stand”
- “…the final objective of having (Cousins) finish his career with the Redskins”
- “Despite our repeated attempts…”
- “Kirk has made it clear he prefers to play in a year-to-year basis”
- “We both share high hopes for this season…”
- “We remain hopeful that a long-term contract will be signed in the future”
In comparison, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will see Le’Veon Bell play on the franchise tag as well, released a statement simply confirming the running back will play out the year on his tag. Two sentences – not 200 words.
Now, after two years without long-term job security, Cousins holds pretty much all of the cards. Of course, the risk of career-threatening injury always exists, but as long as Cousins avoids that and his play doesn’t drop off a cliff, he’s going to get what he wants next spring.
Before free agency began this year, rumors swirled of Cousins wanting out of Washington and possibly ending up with his former coordinator Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers. Smartly, Cousins never confirmed those reports, but if they are true, the 28-year-old has the leverage to either get out of Washington or force the team to pay him a very large sum of money to stay put.
Even if the Redskins decide against a third tag – completely possible, if not likely – Cousins will be able to make his cash somewhere else as one of the top quarterbacks on the market. Brock Osweiler and Mike Glennon proved the last two offseasons that you don’t need much past success to make the big bucks. If Jimmy Garoppolo or a healthy Teddy Bridgewater happens to be available, that could shrink Cousins’ market to some degree – though he would still be the most proven passer available.
The biggest mistake of the Redskins’ public negotiations may not have been their lowball contract offer, but their thinly-veiled characterizations of Cousins, who should be credited with covering up the RG3 fiasco in record time. Washington is already a franchise that toes the line with the conscience of its fans, as it’s fought for the right to use a slur as a team name, fired a GM over purported alcoholism, and rarely showed loyalty to coaches or players.
Painting the picture that your franchise record-breaking, former fourth-round quarterback is selfish and money-hungry is really pushing your luck.
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