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The Options for Kirk, The Options for the Redskins

January 19, 2017
The Redskins are still searching for a new defensive coordinator. The organization still technically does not have an offensive coordinator either.

They are going to lose at least one, if not both, of their top-two wide receivers. They don’t have a stud at running back and their defense could not be saved by Santa Claus (as currently put together), even if they begged the big fella to leave the North Pole.

They might be without their best defensive lineman and their best pure edge pass rusher on a unit that desperately needs both and a lot more.

Just for good measure, they might have a different quarterback in 2017 as well.

So many questions, so many issues. It’s impossible to answer them all but the Redskins are at a really tricky fork in the road.

The question is this: Do they have a sharp enough knife to navigate around that proverbial fork and essentially split the middle.

One of the most fascinating and troubling issues on the agenda is that pesky quarterback situation. You know! The one that the Redskins screwed up in epic fashion last year!

I’m not going down that road again, because I know I was right and that has been proven over and over again. Critics of my plan were so caught up on the “transition-tag” option that I presented and still believe in, as opposed to the franchise tag.

Yes, I realize that the transition tag came with risk. However, the franchise tag came with short-term security and long-term mammoth risk, which is exactly what the Redskins are stuck in now.

The carcass of the franchise is in a pot and right now, it’s just simmering. However, the heat is about to be cranked up.

So here we go:

The Redskins could make this very simple by offering Kirk Cousins a fair long-term deal that would be in the approximate neighborhood of five years and about $120 million, give or take.

On Thursday morning, on the “Sports Junkies” on 106.7 The FAN and CSN Mid-Atlantic (Segment 5, 1/19)  I said five years and an average annual value of about $24.5 million which would work out to a total of about $122.5 million.

My figure is a bit higher than the average calculated value of five years and $117.2 million that presents, so maybe I am a bit high.

I look at it like this: The Redskins should pay higher than market value because they screwed up so badly last year. They did and there’s nobody that should think otherwise.

The problem is this: The Redskins weren’t sure that Cousins was worth 17 or 18 or 20 million dollars per year. That’s fine, but you pay severely for not having the foresight to know that he was going to put up big numbers and create a huge market for his services.

This is what I never understood about the Redskins philosophy. They acted in every way like they did not believe in him in anything other than a tentative, unsure sort of way. Then they got burned and the worst-case scenario turned out to the reality.

Cousins put up big numbers but was inconsistent down the stretch and ultimately the team fell short. It’s not just Kirk Cousins’ fault, but the quarterback is always going to be the center of blame or credit. The Redskins fell short of the playoffs after controlling their own destiny several times and that has led to sweeping changes.

Because of this, as I said all week leading up to the season-ending Giants loss and afterwards, a loss would cost the Redskins millions and millions of dollars in revenue and therefore could be taken out on Cousins.

Because of that and keeping in mind how Washington’s front office treated Cousins like the flu last year, I would expect that the Redskins would make no more than a $20-22 million AAV offer, if they even make that.

Assuming this, the Redskins would then have two choices. They could let Cousins walk via free agency for nothing and he would be snatched up on day one OR they could franchise tag him.

It really isn’t a decision at all: The Redskins MUST place the franchise tag on Cousins this year.

You might ask: Why this year and not last year? I’ve asked myself that a lot! Here’s why: Because Washington screwed up so badly last year and they are in a lose-lose situation in every way, I feel they should delay the inevitable and try to correct a horrible mistake, the best they can.

It’s like lying and then telling another lie to cover up the first lie.

With the Redskins having no other legitimate choice in that phase of this mess – they move to the next part of the process.

Do they elect to extend an exclusive franchise-tag offer to Cousins, which would cost the same amount of money as the non-exclusive, but it would prevent Cousins from talking or negotiating with other teams? Essentially, it would virtually guarantee that Cousins would be the Redskins quarterback for 2017.

Cousins would simply have to sign the tender, which he almost surely do, quickly, like he did last year when he simply could not believe his good fortune. 

Once Cousins does that, a lot of the drama would end and the only question would be is if the Skins and Cousins could strike a deal before July 15 th. A scenario that remains very difficult to imagine.

The Redskins could elect to put the non-exclusive franchise-tag tender on Cousins and that is where things would get interesting.

If the Redskins choose to do this option – it would be the clearest sign of all – that the Skins are comfortable with losing Cousins in free agency and therefore, ready to have Colt McCoy (presumably) under center to open the season.

The non-exclusive tag would give Kirk Cousins his first legitimate option in the process. If he signed the contract tender right away, he would lock himself into 2017 with the Redskins. This counter to the Redskins decision would very likely mean that Cousins would walk into free agency next year with no restrictions.

If he chose NOT to sign it right away, he would then be free to negotiate with other teams during the open window that the NFL provides to all free-agents before free agency and the new league year begins.

Presumably, Cousins would be able to find more than one suitor for his services, which could involve into a bidding war and his agent, Mike McCartney, would have to zero in on the financial package that is most desirable.

At that point, the Cousins camp would have to work with the team they feel most comfortable with, to arrange a compensation package with the Redskins, before signing any offer sheet.

The Redskins, per the collective-bargaining agreement, would be due two first-round picks under normal circumstances.

The catch would be this: Many teams do not want to surrender the compensation normally required, so a negotiation could occur between the Redskins and the potential signing team for a different compensation package.

This is what happened with Matt Cassel as he was the franchise tagged player of the New England Patriots in 2009 after Tom Brady’s ACL injury. Cassel was traded in early March to the Kansas City Chiefs along with Mike Vrabel for a second-round pick, as opposed to the two first-round selections.

The Redskins would not be required to negotiate a different compensation package in any way, but that could affect (and almost certainly will) a deal and therefore, they would run the risk of receiving nothing  in return after this year.

The bottom-line is this: If Kirk Cousins could find a team (San Francisco?) that is willing to pony up $120 + million dollar AND two first-round picks in consecutive years for his services, the Redskins should absolutely make that deal.

The San Francisco 49ers are the most likely scenario, because they need a quarterback and their new head coach will almost surely be, Kyle Shanahan. 

Image result for kyle shanahan

If another team is willing to exchange a high first round pick this year and perhaps a second-round pick next year for Cousins, I would still make that trade if I were the Redskins.

If a team insists on a compensation package of a first-round draft pick and perhaps a veteran player at a need position for the Skins, I would make that trade.

I don’t want Kirk Cousins to leave but if the Redskins decide they are not going to do a long-term deal under almost any circumstance, then they have to correct the mistake they made last year and get a strong return on their mistake and investment.

Simple, right? 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for seven years for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five seasons. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Sports Network (,, & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN.   You can e-mail Chris at