- - Thursday, March 8, 2018

Kirk Cousins is a free man.

Those left behind are not happy.

After six years, Cousins escaped the walls of Redskins Park Tuesday afternoon, as the Redskins declined to tag the quarterback one more time, allowing him to become a free agent next Wednesday.

Much of the reaction, inside and outside of the building, has been good riddance.

Last week at the NFL combine, coach Jay Gruden gave Cousins the kiss off.

“We’ve played this tag game for a couple years now it seems like, and I think it’s time to get some stability at the most important position in sports, and that’s quarterback,” Gruden told reporters.

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“It’s very important for us to move forward and let Kirk move on,” he said. “If Washington’s not a place that he wanted to be, it’s time for us to move on and get some continuity there at quarterback.”

Except there is no moving on — not really. There’s a new quarterback, sure, Alex Smith. But the only one moving on is Kirk Cousins.

Everyone else is stuck at Redskins Park.

Think of Cousins’ departure like an inmate being released from prison. Those he leaves behind are angry, because they can’t leave.

Those fans kicking Cousins — who never did anything to disgrace this franchise, unlike the warden, Bruce Allen, the Prince of Darkness — don’t really have the option of free agency. For fans, this is their team, and they’re stuck with it. They’re stuck with Dan Snyder and the Prince of Darkness and the dysfunction and deceit.

They see Cousins leaving, and deep down, some wish they could walk out the door with him and give their devotion to another team. But they can’t, really. They are burdened with that commitment to the Washington Redskins that Cousins now allegedly never truly had.

That was the narrative pushed Tuesday by Little Brucie — Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall, who maybe believes he is going to run this team someday — in his appearance on ESPN.

“We kind of felt like the commitment wasn’t there from Kirk,” Hall said, “We obviously wanted Kirk. We franchised him because we wanted him there. It was up to ownership and the front office to kind of work those numbers out. They couldn’t get the numbers worked out, so he signed franchise tags those two football seasons. Everybody in that locker room was behind Kirk, wanted him there, but we wanted to feel like he wanted to be there as well. Having played 14 years, I understand, ‘Let’s go get the money,’ but at some point, there has to be mutual interest from both parties to want to get better collectively as a team. Paying Kirk probably the $30 million he’s going to get, we couldn’t do that and get better as a football team.”

At least he didn’t call him “Kurt.”

Hall also said that some players questioned Cousins’ decision to not accept the low ball offer the Prince of Darkness made.

“I felt like some of the offers that we heard about — just being players in the locker room, you kind of hear whispers,” Hall said. “Some of the offers we felt like we heard, we were like, ‘Man, that’s a good deal. Why wouldn’t Kirk take it?’ So, we kind of did a lot of talking among ourselves, and it was just a feel. He never said anything. He never walked around like, ‘Man, why am I here?’ It was never anything like that. Kirk, from the moment he got in that locker room, he was nothing but a professional. He went about his business.”

This would run contrary to everything I’ve been told by players about locker rooms and contracts — no one ever questions a player trying to get every dollar he can for him and his family. No one reaches into another guy’s wallet and asks questions.

If Cousins gets guaranteed free agency money that dwarfs what the Redskins disingenuously offered him last winter — the $53 million guaranteed (which he would simply get $24 million of it just by signing the second franchise tag the Redskins put on him last year) — would Hall still question his commitment? Commitment to what? The Redskins? Seriously? This is right out of the NFL owners’ labor negotiations manual, 1970.

Now it’s on to Alex Smith, who, if you told Redskins fans that over the next three years, he would throw for more than 13,000 yards and 81 touchdown passes, they would consider him to be the second coming of … who? How about Kirk Cousins? Those are the numbers he put up here for the last three seasons while never missing a start — not one start.

Lack of commitment — really?

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

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

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