- - Sunday, March 25, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

We all heard Redskins personnel boss Doug “Don’t answer your phone” Williams declare that Kirk Cousins was old news.

“We’re not looking in the rearview mirror,” Williams told reporters the day they introduced new quarterback Alex Smith to the media. “We’re going forward, and that’s where we are today. So everything today is moving forward, not behind, and we’re going to treat it that way today.”

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch apparently wasn’t paying attention.

In an ESPN interview last week, Lynch made it clear that his coach, Kyle Shanahan, desperately wanted Cousins, and that the quarterback they traded for this season, Jimmy Garappolo, was obviously his second choice.

“We made the (Garoppolo) trade, but then there were some days when Kyle Shanahan was, like, in mourning, because I think everybody knows his master plan was to have Kirk Cousins come in eventually,” Lynch said. “I was proud of Kyle, because I think he knew this was the right thing for our franchise. And he didn’t hesitate. But then, even then, Jimmy had to prove himself.”



I guess Garappolo’s $137.5 million contract that he signed in February with San Francisco will go a long way to soothing any ruffled feathers about the fact that he was not his head coach’s favored quarterback.

But, despite Williams’ plea to forget the past, Lynch’s comments should ruffle the feathers of Redskins fan, who legitimately could ask the question — if the New England Patriots were able to get a second-round draft pick from the 49ers for an unproven backup, what could the Redskins have gotten during last offseason if they had been willing to trade Cousins, rather than foolishly tagging him for the second straight season?

The assumption was that everyone knew Cousins wanted to enter free agency, and that San Francisco, rather than trade for Cousins, would simply wait until he hit the free agent market and bid for his services, having the inside track because of the strong relationship between Shanahan and Cousins. But the trade for Garappolo flies in the face of that scenario. Trading a second-round draft choice for, again, an unproven backup instead of waiting for Cousins means that the 49ers were desperate to get some control over their quarterback situation.

There was no guarantee if they had traded for Cousins that they would have been able to sign him. But there was no guarantee they could have signed Garappolo, either, and didn’t until the season was over.

What Lynch’s comments confirm is the general consensus that Shanahan wanted Cousins. What Lynch’s comments also do is raise the question of whether or not the Redskins, amid their bungling of the Cousins contract and negotiations, doubled down on dumb by not capitalizing on Shanahan’s love for Cousins and trying to squeeze perhaps a first-round draft choice out of San Francisco.

It’s a legitimate question — and raises the possibility that the Prince of Darkness, team president Bruce Allen, let his petty personal grudges get in the way of what would have been best for the future of the franchise.

It should have been clear to Allen and the so-called brain trust at Redskins Park last offseason that they had little, if any chance, to sign Cousins to a long-term contract. The damage was done, and he was going to be on the first plane out of town as soon as his sentence with the Redskins was finished. If they failed to recognize that, then this front office is even more delusional or dysfunctional than we believe — and that’s difficult to fathom.

That phony contract offer they made Cousins last July — $53 million guaranteed, more than $30 million less than what Cousins wound up getting in guaranteed money from the Minnesota Vikings eight months later — was for show, something to try to fool the fan base into believing the Redskins were doing all they could to keep Cousins.

Reasonably intelligent people, realizing that Cousins was heading for free agency, would have entertained all calls last offseason for trades for Cousins — including from the 49ers. We don’t know, though, if those calls ever took place, or how receptive the Redskins were to such overtures. However, based on Lynch’s comments, reasonably intelligent people can come to the conclusion that the 49ers were there for the taking. Everyone in football likely knew what Lynch confirmed — Kyle Shanahan wanted Kirk Cousins.

Reasonably intelligent people can also come to the conclusion that the Prince of Darkness would have rather swallowed broken glass than trade Cousins and reunite him with Shanahan. If you have any doubt of how petty he could be, please see the credible reports this winter about the Redskins considering tagging Cousins one more time. If you have any doubt about how petty this front office can be, please see the anonymous quote fed to the Washington Post last year about fired general manager Scot McCloughan and drinking.

The trade of Cousins to San Francisco last offseason could have garnered Washington, at the very least, a second-round draft pick. Then they would have gone into the season with Colt McCoy as the starter, and what, go 6-10 instead of 7-9? And, please note, under this scenario they probably get the chance to keep their own quarterback prospect, Nate Sudfeld, instead of leaving him out there to be picked up by Philadelphia, who clearly value his future. Maybe at some point last season Sudfeld gets playing time, and develops.

Maybe going into 2018, Sudfeld is the Redskins starting quarterback, and they haven’t traded promising young cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for Smith — and then have to pay Smith $71 million in guaranteed money over the next four years.

Williams might want to go forward, but it is the past that continues to hamstring this franchise. Lynch reminded everyone of that last week.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays, find it on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.

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