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Cousins to Cleveland?

March 15, 2017
Another day – another set of quotes and more confusion on the Kirk Cousins situation and his future with or without the Redskins.

Wait – I thought all of the “scuttle-butt” as Bruce Allen likes to refer to it as – was over? You mean he wasn’t serious?

Damn, I was hoping for a drama free off-season. Oh that’s right! It’s impossible to have a drama-free day, never mind a clean few months. And I'm just talking about the quarterback situation  and not the other gigantic mess. You know - like firing the general manager on the first day of free agency and sand-blasting him as a crazed drunk instead of painting a bigger picture of truth. 

Let’s roll.

As you know, Kirk Cousins is the Redskins franchise-tendered and signed quarterback at a rate of nearly $24 million. 

There’s the latest hot rumor that Cousins could be traded to the Cleveland Browns, that ProFootballTalk.com (PFT) put on blast Tuesday.

PFT, citing a league source, said there’s a “growing belief in some circles that the Browns will try to acquired Cousins via trade.”

The first thing that we must point out is that “growing belief in some circles” is extremely vague and means very little.

It doesn’t mean that a trade with Cleveland has no chance of happening, but let’s pump the brakes a bit.

The Redskins say they do not want to trade Cousins. Many of us do not believe that the Redskins are telling the truth when it comes to having no desire to deal Cousins.

As a matter of fact – if they haven’t considered it or strongly thought about it – they’re crazier than we all thought.

The more interesting part of the PFT story was that another source said Cousins had “one concern” after signing his franchise tag tender and that was “he can be traded.” The greater point was that he was “specifically concerned about being traded to Cleveland.”

Cousins should be concerned and it was why I was surprised that Cousins signed his tender when he did. I believe  it was a sign of good faith because Cousins  had to know that the Redskins would not pull the tag, ever.

In conversations with someone close to the situation, I mentioned this last Thursday night before Cousins signed the deal and it was pointed out that the Redskins knew Cousins was not going to hold out of training camp, so the thought was to sign it and keep all options open.

OK, that makes sense  but Cousins had to sign the tender in order to be traded and if he didn’t sign the tender, he could have prevented a trade to any other team that he did not want to go to.

Perhaps, that team or situation is Cleveland?

After all – even though it appears that Hue Jackson is building things slowly in Northeast Ohio, why would Cousins want to be a part of the modern day “mistake by the lake” if he had a choice?

Now, he doesn’t have a choice about who or where he could be traded to but he does have a choice as to where he would or would not sign a long-term deal with.

The belief is that he would only sign a long-term deal now in San Francisco because he completely trusts Kyle Shanahan and wants to be somewhere he is loved and fully respected.

He knows that’s not in Washington. He’s a pawn piece, no matter what the Redskins say. Their actions are opposite of their words.

So what could the Redskins get? They're not getting the # 1 overall pick, so forget about that. They could get a couple of 2nd round picks. Remember, the Browns just spent a lot of their salary cap space to acquire a second round pick next year and Brock Osweiler. Heyyyy, maybe the Redskins could get Brock.....

Uggh..nevermind. That would be a debacle in these here parts. 

The problem for Cousins and why he should not have signed the tender is this: Not only can he be traded to a team other than San Francisco, because as we wrote, the Redskins re-gained leverage by doing the exclusive tag but he could theoretically be restricted on the market for 2018 as well.

As PFT points out, the Browns (to use this example) would acquire Cousins and easily absorb the $23.94 million franchise tag for 2017 but also could slap the transition tag with the right to match any long-term offer next year at a cap figure of $28.7 million for 2018 or they could actually use the franchise tag on Cousins for the first time in Cleveland but for the third consecutive season at an absurd figure that is north of $34 million.

Cousins would be somewhat if not completely restricted yet again from getting to the open market to determine his value and most importantly, could essentially be frozen in Lake Erie by the Browns having leverage over Cousins.

This is what happens when the Redskins have leverage ( which they do, at least for the short-term) and how so may NFL business people have screwed this up. Or have they?

The Redskins may never get Cousins on a long-term deal but they are in control of the next step and could trade him to where Cousins ideally does not want to be, which would be worse than being in a state of limbo with the Redskins.

The Browns, to continue using them as an example, still have over $60 million in cap space for 2017 per OvertheCap.com. In 2018, they are currently set only have about $40 million of space, as of right now. However, that money that is unused from this year could be and often is carried over from year to year.

It’s entirely possible that the Browns could have somewhere between $50-70 million dollars’ worth of space next year.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves, but this is one main reason that I was not a fan of Cousins signing the franchise tag and this is something I’ve been advocating him not to do since late November.

Not because it would give leverage back to the Skins and they could trade him to NFL Siberia but because Cousins needed to make the Redskins sweat a bit. He needed to make them nervous and he didn’t because he was trying to do the right thing by signing the tender and moving forward.

Instead, he could get burnt big time and all this “scuttle-butt” will lead to Cousins going from one bad franchise to another.

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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