- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As the Washington Redskins open training camp in Richmond, a quarterback controversy hangs over the franchise.

It’s not your typical quarterback controversy. Leave it to the Washington Redskins to have a quarterback controversy with just one quarterback.

The competition is between the guy who is solidly in place as the starting quarterback – Kirk Cousins – and the general manager of the team that sent a message to his quarterback recently that he’s not that impressed yet.

The failure of general manager Scot McCloughan to reach a long-term contract agreement with Cousins puts the two of them at odds, no matter how much both of them say they are rowing in the same direction for the good of the team.

Cousins is already getting paid — $20 million this year under the franchise tag. But if he was going to commit long-term to this franchise, he wanted more.



McCloughan told him he wasn’t worth more – and may never be, at least in his eyes.

No one knows for sure what Cousins was asking for in their talks with McCloughan for a long-term deal. But here is what we do know – Brock Osweiler, who has a less impressive resume and numbers than Cousins, signed a four-year, $72 million contract this offseason with the Houston Texans — $37 million of that guaranteed. So we can safely say Cousins wanted more.

The Redskins‘ offer was a good bit short of that: $16 million a year with just $24 million guaranteed, according to NFL.com. And reportedly that offer, made five months ago, never changed before the July 15 deadline to either reach a long-term deal or play under the franchise tag for 2016.

The offer would indicate that McCloughan doesn’t even think Cousins is worth what they’re paying him now — $20 million for the season. And his comments on SiriusXM Bleacher Report radio recently would indicate that McCloughan has no plans to pay Cousins any substantial amount of guaranteed money. In fact, according to some reports, the Redskins believe they can find a younger, cheaper future alternative.

Good luck with that. This franchise hasn’t had a franchise quarterback of note since perhaps Joe Theismann 30 years ago. Mark Rypien had himself a season in 1991, and Doug Williams had himself a Super Bowl in 1988. But long-term success at the position? Not in a generation.

And perhaps not in the foreseeable future.

“I want Kirk in a long-term deal, no doubt about it, but also I’m not going put our franchise in a situation where we’re going to lose three or four younger guys that I think are going to be good football players for one guy,” McCloughan told SiriusXM Bleacher Report radio. “I won’t do it. You know, that’s just how it is. And the quarterback position’s very, very important, but you know what, so is every other position. We need football players. We need multiple football players, not one.”

That’s not a “we want to get another look at Cousins this year” position. That’s a “we won’t pay a quarterback elite money” position.

With his comments, McCloughan put the long-term success or failure of this franchise at the feet of Cousins‘ contract desires. How do you think Cousins, who said this winter he wants to play “where he is wanted” felt about McCloughan saying he wasn’t going to sacrifice the team just to make Kirk happy?

Upon arriving in Richmond for training camp, Cousins told reporters everything was fine.

“I’m OK,” Cousins said. “I’m not lying awake at night. I’m good. I feel comfortable. Got a pretty good raise this year. Last year, I was looking at a one-year deal making a lot less than I’m making this year. So, I feel fine. I’m good…. You’re not going to hear any complaints from me.”

Okay, Kirk. Then why bother negotiating for a long-term contract?

Cousins isn’t likely going to get cheaper. Coming off a year where he set five franchise records, including 4,166 yards, 29 touchdowns and 69.8 completion percentage, he is likely going to surpass those numbers, with a year under his belt as the starter and with the weapons this Redskins offense has.

Any long-term deal next year is going to cost even more than this one would have, and further put McCloughan in the position of losing “three or four younger guys that I think are going to be good football players for one guy.”

Unless McCloughan has no intention of paying any quarterback elite money, including Cousins – who, if no long-term contract comes next off season, will either be franchise tagged again by the Redskins and paid $24 million, or be allowed to walk away and be a free agent, where he will get the money he wants.

McCloughan’s strength, then, if the plan is to keep Cousins, is for him to fail this year so the quarterback’s bargaining position will be weakened.

Unless, of course, all this is a smokescreen to cover the possibility that owner Daniel Snyder just couldn’t bring himself to write a big check to Cousins, the quarterback who reminds him every day that he was drafted by Mike Shanahan and he replaced the owner’s prized player, Robert Griffin III.

No matter. Every game this year now becomes a Kirk Cousins referendum, for McCloughan and Cousins. If Cousins plays well one week, McCloughan and Redskins management will be asked if they regret not signing Cousins to a long-term deal. If Cousins stinks one week, he will be answering questions about his decision to bet on himself and play under the franchise tag, not taking more long-term security.

Let the quarterback controversy begin. It’s Redskins season.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide