Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III were both drafted by the Washington Redskins in 2012. Griffin III was drafted 2nd overall by Washington after they made a trade with the St. Louis Rams to get that pick. In the 4th round, Cousins was selected as a potential trade piece in the future. And as expected, Griffin III came out and was the star at quarterback for the Redskins in his rookie season. And his explosive play helped lead the Redskins to the playoffs in his rookie year. But after he got hurt at the end of the year and tore up his knee in their lone playoff game, Griffin III has not been the same. And during that time, Cousins has had his times to show he can be the starter. Cousins floundered in his first two tries as the starter of the Redskins in 2013 and 2014. It got so bad in Washington that Cousins was replaced by Colt McCoy after Cousins replaced Griffin III at one point. But this season, he was named the starter from the beginning of the season. And even though he had some rough moments, Cousins was able to lead the Redskins to the playoffs. But now the Redskins have another decision to make. Cousins is a free agent this offseason and could potentially leave the team. Recently, contract negotiations were broke off between Cousins and the Redskins when they could not come to an agreement. But even though the contract negotiations have broken off, there is little to no reason to think that he will not be wearing a Redskins uniform next season.
By March 1st, all teams have to have their franchise tags in place. We all pretty much assume the Broncos will have theirs in place for pass rush supreme Von Miller. But Cousins will be a guy that more than likely will have one placed on him. If Washington places the franchise tag on him, that will give them more time to discuss a long-term contract with Cousins. He and his agent will more than likely come back to the negotiation table after the franchise tag is placed on him. At that point, numbers will be compared and the two will either agree to a new deal or allow him to play through the franchise tag. If they are to pay him and make him the franchise quarterback, then they would be committing to a deal that would have him making at least an average of $20 million per season. That type of money would put him in the class of contracts that Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Carolina’s Cam Newton and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers are in. And with that type of contract, there would be more expectation on Cousins to lead this team like a franchise quarterback does. That would mean he would have to put up numbers like he did this season (29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions) and then some consistently. And considering that he has had chances before and this year was the first time he put up good numbers, can the Redskins really ensure that making Cousins the franchise quarterback is a solid move?
If the Redskins are smart, they would allow Cousins to play out the year on the franchise tag. By doing that, it would give them an even clearer answer on Cousins as the future for Washington at quarterback. By that time, defenses would have adjusted to some of the things he does offensively. The biggest challenge for him will be keeping ahead of the curve and showing that he is just not one that took advantage of defenses that were not familiar with him. If he proves that he can make it happen despite defenses gearing up to stop him, he will have then shown that he may be capable to be their franchise quarterback. If the Redskins make a mistake and sign him based off one year, they could hamstring themselves for years. If Cousins falls back to what he has been before the 2015 season, then you have a team that has no cap space and will be tied into Cousins for at least two years. All the while, they will be watching pieces leave that they may not have the money to keep. Cousins could end up becoming the newest version of Matt Flynn. There is a lot of possibilities out there that last year could have been an overachievement and the Redskins need to think long and hard along with taking an extended look at Cousins. If they are able to get that, then they can get the deal done next season. Of course, Cousins will probably have some leverage over them, but Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has shown over his time there that he is not afraid to open the checkbook for players.
Kirk Cousins and the Redskins have some decisions to make over time. Both have to get back to the negotiation table and the Redskins have to make a decision in franchising Cousins should they not complete a deal before March 1st. And when he gets franchised, that is when the fun will begin. That also is where the hard stance should begin. If they want to be smart, then they will look to see more before paying Cousins top money. If not, then they are not tied up at that position for a while longer.