The Redskins have a franchise quarterback in Kirk Cousins, but apparently don’t want to pay him like one. Which means that if the two sides can’t come to terms on a multi-year deal in the coming months, Cousins could be elsewhere in 2017 and Washington will be looking for a franchise passer for the third time since 2012.
The Redskins could still choose to use the franchise tag on Cousins, which would make the second straight year they chose to do so. The two sides would then have until July 15 to bang out the details on a new contract, otherwise Cousins would have to play on a one-year contract worth roughly $24 million. Alternatively, the ‘Skins could tag Cousins and then trade him, if they felt like a) he wasn’t worth a lucrative long-term deal, and b) they could get a hefty ransom for his services from a quarterback-needy team. (In related news: If the Redskins trade Cousins, they immediately become a “quarterback-needy team.”)
This brings us to the 49ers, where Kyle Shanahan was named coach earlier this month. He coordinated one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses last season in Atlanta, and was the offensive coordinator in Washington when Cousins came into the league five years ago. And according to ESPN.com’s John Keim, there’s only one team Cousins would sign with right now: Yep, San Francisco.
In terms of shopping Cousins around to the highest bidder, this severely limits any leverage the Redskins might have. Put another way: This complicates things for both sides. Keim adds: “It’s hard to say the Redskins definitely will trade him; it’s not hard to say they will try.”
Last week, NFL Network analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah said there’s a 50 percent chance Cousins isn’t in Washington next season.
“I don’t think they’re going to be able to get a long-term deal done, and I think there is, I would say, a greater than 50 percent chance that he’s not with the Redskins next year,” Jeremiah told a San Diego radio station, via the Washington Post. “So you’ve got the combine coming up, all these teams will be together. I would not be shocked, at all, if we saw a Kirk Cousins to San Francisco trade go down at that point in time. And now you’ve got the dominoes really starting to fall. …
“From what I hear, they’re not, in [Redskins Park], totally 100 percent sold on Kirk to give him the money that he could get,” Jeremiah said. “So I don’t think they come to a long-term deal, and I don’t think they can really afford to franchise him next year for a third year. So the feeling is hey, if we’re going to move on, we need to get something in exchange for him. And San Francisco would seem like the likely landing spot there. So we’ll see what happens.”
The knock on Cousins is that he struggles with consistency, but he ranked third in total value among all quarterbacks last season, according to Football Outsiders’ metrics, behind only Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. So if Cousins leaves Washington, the team would replace him with?
“If they believe in Colt McCoy like some people believe they do, they make that trade, they end up with the second pick in the draft,” Jeremiah continued. “Might have to part with their own pick, no. 17, but they could wind up with the second pick in the draft. And then they have to decide if they want to draft one of these kids, or whether you go with Colt McCoy and just draft somebody else at that spot.”
McCoy, it’s worth noting, has started exactly zero times the last two seasons, and went 1-3 in four starts in 2014.