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If Sunday is Kirk's Final Game @ FedEx....

December 23, 2017
If Sunday is Kirk Cousins last home game as the Redskins starting quarterback – it will be a sparse going away party in a largely meaningless game for the Redskins and for Cousins.

They’ll be taking on a great Denver Broncos defense without Trent Williams, Jordan Reed, Chris Thompson and now they have somebody named Dare Ogunbowale, who will be getting snaps at running back.

Yikes! Not a fun way to go out in the concrete jungle, if you’re Kirk Cousins. Or maybe it’s fitting to have such spotty support, because that’s the way it has been, since minute one with the Redskins.

The exact second he was drafted was met with resistance and negativity. He was engulfed in a difficult situation by a coach and offensive coordinator that believed in him, when almost everyone else scoffed at the notion.

He was forced into an organization with an executive branch that treated him like a mosquito buzzing around on a humid, summer evening in Washington D.C.

It wasn’t Cousins’ fault, obviously, and it should be to his credit that he completely rose above all the nonsense to become what he has become.

Yet, it still hasn’t been good enough and it probably never will be.

Sunday could be his swan-song and if it is – Redskins fans – I implore you to give Cousins a huge standing ovation when he’s either introduced out of that silly over-inflated helmet or when he jogs onto the field for the first time.

I have a feeling this possible last introduction will be met with indifference.  Has there ever been anybody more productive and yet more universally treated with a stiff-arm?

Make no mistake about it: The Redskins lack of faith in Cousins at a fair long-term rate and structure combined with the way they slapped him in the face after 2015 has led to a complete divide in the fan base.

Cousins deserves to be back. He should be under a more than reasonable long-term contract but the Redskins completely screwed him over and the rest of the NFL by not dealing with fair market value offers or understanding how things were going to work.

They didn’t know their employee, a man built on a much sturdier foundation than just one of money, greed and fame. They never thought he would gladly take the franchise tag when it was first slapped on him. He did.

They never thought he was serious about wanting more time to evaluate the Redskins organization last year, which was in complete upheaval. He was.

They never thought he would repeat 2015 in 2016. He did. He was far from perfect but gave them a chance.

They asked him in 2017 to do it without TWO one-thousand yard receivers and while nothing has been easy, Cousins led an offense that has been mostly productive before finally succumbing to an incredible amount of season ending injuries.

Could Cousins have been better than he has been in 2017? Sure! Of course. Everyone should be able to put on a “Superman” cape every now and then and lift his team into the clouds. You can argue he did that in Seattle. He did that in Los Angeles against the Rams. He almost did and should have done it against New Orleans.

It probably doesn’t matter much anymore. Cousins could come back under a third consecutive franchise tag, but that obviously is a stretch because of the cap charge of nearly $35 million involved.

They could transition tag Cousins and match a long-term deal that some other team offers and Cousins actually signs. If they don’t match, they lose Cousins and do not receive a compensatory pick in 2019.

Or they could let Cousins hit free agency with no restriction to see if he finds a lot better of a deal than whatever the Redskins ultimately offer, assuming they even offer one.

Either way, I don’t know how the Redskins are going to be able to justify the decision one way or the other. No matter what they do, they are pretty much screwed. Of course, they screwed themselves as this chart and study from OvertheCap.com indicates.

The Redskins have the “least flexible” salary cap situation in the NFL, per the analysis. OTC’s lead cap evaluator wrote in part “I’m not sure anyone can really explain what has gone on in Washington over the last few years with the way they ‘have approached their roster.” 

Ultimately, if Cousins is not the Redskins week one starter in 2018, Washington is going to save a lot of cap money. Colt McCoy and a rookie, even a first-round pick, would cost roughly about 1/3 of what Cousins would cost under the cap, but are you getting one-third of the production? Are you getting one-third of the durability? These are all unknowns. No matter what the Redskins say about having confidence in anyone and everyone.

If Sunday is Cousins last home game with the Redskins, he’ll have finished with no worse than a (17 – 15) record and with a win, it would be a impressive (18 – 14).

Entering Sunday, Cousins is (655 – 981) with a 66.77% completion rate in his six-year career as a Redskin at FedExField. He’s passed for 7,833 yards and thrown 48 touchdown passes with 23 interceptions. Cousins has a career home quarterback rating of 97.5 at home, has averaged 7.98 yards per attempt and 252.7 yards per game. Throw in seven rushing touchdowns for Cousins and you have a 55 touchdown to 23 interception ratio or a greater than 2:1 ratio for the home fans, who pay a lot of money to see him and the Redskins perform. 

Cousins has started every game for three years. He’s done it with class and dignity. You can count on him and essentially what he boils down to is the NFL equivalent of good to very good starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. He’s not going to win every start for many reasons but he’s going to give you a chance to win almost every game.

Think seven very solid, two earned run type performances in baseball terms and that’s what you get from Cousins. Almost every game. It's never been easy and without some bumps in the road, but that is to be expected.

The Redskins aren’t really interested(at a fair rate/structure) in securing those services long-term and that is their choice. Maybe they’ll surprise everyone and end this charade in a positive, unexpected way but I wouldn’t count on it.

In the meantime, if you are at the game Sunday, give Cousins a tip of the cap and a standing ovation. The words thank you might be nice as well. If you’re watching the game on television, you can do your part as well. It’s OK to appreciate someone who has done very good work in very difficult circumstances.

I won’t be at the game and I won’t be watching the game live, but Kirk Cousins has my respect and admiration for how he’s tried to stabilize a franchise despite every path to glory being blocked. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins, Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade for Monumental Sports Network (www.DCHotRead.com).  Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN      


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