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No Negotiations? A Big Problem for the Skins!

January 30, 2017
The calendar is about to turn to February. This is not an opinion, just a mere fact.

The first day of March and the franchise tag designation deadline  is about a month away and the Redskins are acting like that date is nowhere close. But obviously, it is looming and oh by the way, in case the Redskins don’t know this, February is only 28 days long and is the shortest month of the year.

That’s OK. The Redskins have plenty of time to start contract negotiations with Kirk Cousins. That’s what Redskins President, grand puba and all-powerful center of the universe, Bruce Allen said last week to reporters assembled at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

Allen told the group including 106.7 The FAN’s Brian McNally and CSN-Mid Atlantic’s J.P. Finlay, via this video link that the Redskins have a plan, Cousins and his agent Mike McCartney know the plan and that a long-term deal between both sides is the goal.

"It's nothing to hurry into right now," Allen told those reporters when asked about the status of contract negotiations and if they had started with Kirk Cousins yet. 

Okay….Bruce. I got ya. 

Jay Gruden made a statement last week and  Allen doubled down on SIRIUSXM NFL Radio saying it was a 10 out of 10 that Cousins would be back in 2017. If any of it is true, which I presume some of it may indeed be, that could be good for the Redskins.  

The Redskins have options, as we outlined recently. They have the ability to absolutely make sure that Cousins is back in 2017. They also have almost complete control beyond that because they have the ability to match any offer Cousins receives, if he is tagged with the non-exclusive franchise tag. 

I have to take everything that comes out of Redskins Park with some reservation because I just don’t believe everything that Bruce Allen says. Never have, never will. I don’t trust him for one second, never mind trusting him on this. 

Jay Gruden tells the truth more in one day than Allen ever will, so I do tend to believe him more. However, there are many times when an NFL coach and quite honestly this is true in my career and in yours, that we have to lie or present a "safe" version of the story. 

The Redskins season ended a month ago. They weren’t able to legally negotiate from July 16 th  of 2016 until January 2nd of 2017. That’s a long time to go without being able to talk about a long-term contract with a quarterback that they say they want to be here for a long time.

If I went almost six months without being able to do a radio show or offer an opinion, I would be going stir-crazy. If you or I were on a hard core diet for nearly six months and finally allowed to eat good tasting food, would you wait at least another month before you endulged?

The answer is a resounding no!

So why would the Redskins choose to not have any negotiations of any kind with Mike McCartney (Cousins’ agent) on a long-term deal for almost a full month after the season?

It is after all – the most critical decision the Redskins have faced in five years and the decision they made then, turned out to be a failure. That was the Robert Griffin III trade and no matter what argument you want to make, nobody can say that the Redskins won that trade, except for the area they care the most about.

You guessed it! Their bank account.

Back to the question above.  Yes a month is plenty of time to make a legitimate offer or five offers or ten offers, if they really want to .

That’s the problem Almost nobody believes they will make legitimate, market value, fair offer to even have a substantial negotiation with Cousins.

On one hand, if the Redskins are going to low-ball and try to humiliate Cousins as they did last off-season, I’d rather them not waste anybody’s time and not make more of a farce of the situation than they already have.

The more balanced side of me – wants to believe the Redskins are serious about doing a long-term deal with Cousins, after completely botching the situation last year.

However, if they are serious about wanting to do that, you make an aggressive bid to try and set the groundwork for such a transaction as soon as possible.

You don’t wait and wait and wait, making the other side guess and wonder if you are truly committed to a marriage.

They say deadlines spur action. That’s true in a lot of cases. Except for in this particular case, as in last year when the Redskins never made a legitimate offer that was representative of the market and the $20 million per year price tag that the Redskins decided to give to Cousins, via the franchise tag.

The Redskins last offer was reportedly about $16 million per year and $24 million fully guaranteed. That was AFTER Brock Osweiler received a four-year, $72 million deal with $36 + million fully guaranteed.

Cousins is a better quarterback than Osweiler is, in his sleep.  He was last off-season, during this past season and ten times more as you read this..

The Redskins wouldn’t even come close to the Osweiler deal last year. Now they are in a position where they almost have to double it if they want to keep Cousins for more than just 2017.

If they don’t, that’s fine. They have a right to make that decision and they would have plenty of support from their customers about that choice. They also would have paid $44 million guaranteed for two years of service and walked away with nothing but a compensatory pick in 2018. Or of course, they could try and work out a trade after putting that non-exclusive tag on Cousins. 

The problem is this: They put themselves in this situation and they don’t have a proven, viable option in 2017 or beyond.

The Redskins almost certainly do not want to pay Cousins anywhere close to $25 million per year with the guarantees that would come with that price tag.

Cousins and his representatives probably want in that neighborhood, because that’s what the market is going to dictate. Especially because Derek Carr and Matthew Stafford are due/very likely to get extensions this off-season and both of those deals are expected to top the $23.5 million per year average that Andrew Luck got from the Colts last summer, along with the $44 million fully guaranteed and the $87 million in three-year guarantees that Luck received.

A reminder: Luck and the same would be true for Carr and Stafford were all under contract or are under contract at the time of these negotiations and deals. A free-agent always has more leverage and ability to gain more. That’s just the way it works.

There’s no doubt that this is a very complicated negotiation for many reasons. Which leads me back to my orginal question: If the Redskins are serious about a long-term deal, why give yourself less time to make that happen?

Get it done. Try to secure your future and move on. In order to lock up Cousins, they must make a legitimate effort. They have not done so, in the words of their President, who sounds at times like another powerful person that just took over the country. Allen is the only voice that truly matters in this case. He runs the show for Dan Snyder. Jay Gruden works for Allen and so does Scot McCloughan. Not the other way around. 

As for the lack of activity, the Redskins had player and coach evaluations to make following the season. They fired one coordinator and lost another. There’s no doubt that they’ve had a bunch to deal with. So have I. So has everyone that has their life revolve around the Redskins.

To provide a different perspective: I tell my kids every day how much I love them. I carve out an hour-and-a-half to two hours per day to talk with them, because it’s important to me and important to them. I don’t go a week without talking to them, because I’m busy and because there’s always tomorrow.

That’s my reality. I make time because it’s important to me. I work 60 plus hours per week in the offseason because my kids are important to me and that’s the only way they can have what they need.

There’s no time to be nonchalant in my life. Apparently, the Redskins have all the time in the world, per Bruce Allen.

That should tell you everything you need to know. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for six seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for the last five. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Network (www.DCHotRead.com), WashingtonTimes.com, BreakingBurgundy.com & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN     


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