Kirk Cousins

Extra Points: Redskins, Cousins, Raiders

Redskins coach Jay Gruden wants to see Kirk Cousins get a long-term contract and not just another one-year patchwork solution.

I think something has to be done,” Gruden told Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post. “I personally don’t want to go through another one-year deal, and just [keep going] one year, one year. I think you want to have a quarterback in here that’s going to be here. And hopefully that is Kirk, and if not, we have to move on and do what we have to do as an organization. For the most part, the great quarterbacks are in the same system year in and year out, and are developing in that system. [Teams are] not holding our breath every March and April, waiting for the guy. But if that’s the case, that’s the case. But we like Kirk and his development. He’s played well at times, without a doubt, proven that he’s a good starting NFL quarterback.”

Cousins did not quite match his 2016 numbers this past season and that could help the two sides reach a midway point in extension talks. Failing that, the Redskins can franchise tag him again for a whopping $34.5MM or use the $28.8MM transition tag, giving them the option to match any offer (though they would not receive any compensation if they do not match).

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • It remains to be seen whether the Raiders will face punishment for skirting the Rooney Rule, but the league has spoken on at least one aspect of Jon Gruden‘s hiring. When asked whether the NFL permits a team to reach an agreement in principle with a new coach before firing its current coach, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart told Mike Florio of PFT, “There is no league rule or policy on this.” During Gruden’s introductory presser, owner Mark Davis said that he had a handshake deal with Gruden before firing Jack Del Rio. The Fritz Pollard Alliance seems fairly convinced that this was a violation of the Rooney Rule since the team interviewed minority candidates after reaching a deal with Gruden. However, the league may conclude that the Raiders complied with the rule since they did technically interview Tee Martin and Bobby Johnson before putting pen to paper with Chucky.
  • Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield may go without an on-field agent, as Liz Mullen of Sports Business Daily writes. It would be a daring play for Mayfield, who is facing many questions about his ability to adapt to the NFL.
  • The Bears have tapped Chris Tabor to be their new special-teams coordinator, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes. This marks Tabor’s second stint with Chicago, with his first coming in 2008-2010. For the last seven seasons, he’s been in Cleveland, where he’s lasted through two different owners, five GMs, and four head coaches.

Kirk Cousins Wants to Wait Until March For Any Deal

Kirk Cousins has already been franchised tagged the past two seasons and appears to want to wait out his next payday too. The 29-year-old quarterback is set to become a free agent in March and recently elaborated on his desire to wait until that time in order to max out his value, reports John Keim of ESPN.com.

Kirk Cousins (vertical)

“I see us taking our time,” Cousins said. “You can only just go year to year for so long, but that’s why it’s first things first. Let’s get away from the season a little bit and then let’s gather some information as to what the rest of the league is looking like, who’s being hired, who’s being fired. … It’s hard to make decisions now because there are so many dominoes to fall between now and then to influence it.”

Free agency is set to begin on March 14 with Washington having the chance to franchise tag him again for a stunning $34.5MM by the March 6 deadline. That scenario seems highly unlikely given how much that salary would hamstring the rest of the roster. However, the Redskins could decide to apply the $28.8MM transition tag in order to maintain some control over his future. While the team won’t receive any compensation should Cousins agree to another team on a transition tag, it does give Washington the chance to match any offer if he does sign with another team.

It certainly seems based on his comments that Cousins would like to test the free agent waters after being agreeing to play on the franchise tags for the past two years. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t consider re-signing with the Redskins if the price is right.

“It’s been a very positive six years,” he said. “Obviously we don’t have Super Bowl rings to show for it, we don’t have playoff wins. But it’s a privilege to play here. I’ve always felt that, and I’d be foolish to say I don’t want to be here.”

Cousins is not a spring chicken as he’ll turn 30 years old over the summer. He’s in his prime right now and clearly wants to get the most out of his upcoming long-term deal. If he wishes to do that, waiting until other teams have a chance to bid on him seems like the best way to do that.

East Notes: Giants, Collins, Cutler, Jets

A day after referring to Eli Apple as “a cancer,” Landon Collins has attempted to walk that back. While that might be difficult, the All-Pro Giants safety issued an apology (on Twitter) today and confirmed he did so in person in a meeting with Apple and Steve Spagnuolo. The interim HC confirmed the meeting, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter).

I met with Coach Spags and Eli this morning and I apologized for the things I said yesterday,” Collins said. “I never stop supporting my brother/teammate Eli and the rest of my teammates as we move forward. Just want him to know I’m always here for him.”

On Tuesday during a radio interview, Collins said Apple “needs to grow up.” Wednesday’s apology marks the latest chapter in a weeks-long saga involving the two defensive backs. Earlier this month, Collins said he’d talked to Apple — who has taken a step back this season — and told media the cornerback’s issues were mental and that he was dealing with “significant” personal struggles. Apple then denied Collins spoke with him, and the third-year safety — according to NJ.com — had to be restrained by teammates as he attempted to confront the second-year corner. Apple has not been suspended like Janoris Jenkins or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were, but he’s been benched and reportedly nearly left the Giants’ facility because of a harsh film-room session earlier this season.

Here’s the latest out of the Eastern divisions.

  • Josh McDaniels remains linked to Patriots exec Nick Caserio regarding GM/HC arrangements, but Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports the New England OC could also be interested in pairing up with Louis Riddick as a GM. Riddick interviewed for the Giants’ GM job last week, although Dave Gettleman is viewed as the favorite. McDaniels and Caserio were a sought-after tandem last year, with the 49ers having shown interest in bringing them to the Bay Area.
  • Adam Gase said Wednesday he has not spoken to Jay Cutler about him returning to the Dolphins in 2018, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Jackson adds the Dolphins remain committed to having Ryan Tannehill return as their starter next season, but he reported last week the Fins would be open to Cutler coming back as the backup. Cutler will start this weekend’s regular-season finale against the Bills.
  • Davis Webb will rise to the Giants‘ No. 2 quarterback role and take Geno Smith‘s place as Eli Manning‘s backup, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It will be the first time Webb suits up as an NFLer. Smith will be inactive Sunday, and Webb could see time off the bench in the game under the format Ben McAdoo broached with Manning upon benching him earlier this year. Spagnuolo, however, said (via Schwartz, on Twitter) there are “no guarantees” the third-round rookie makes his NFL debut against the Redskins.
  • The Jets are likely to land a pick in the lower part of the top 10, and Brian Costello of the New York Post ranked the most- to least-likely scenarios involving offseason quarterback plans. Most likely is a setup where the Jets draft Josh Allen with their first pick and re-sign Josh McCown to continue his better-than-expected stopgap work. Costello notes the Jets’ top competition for the Wyoming passer could be the BroncosJohn Elway trekked to the Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, last week to observe Allen in person. The Jets, though, have put in the most work on Allen to this point. Gang Green’s No. 2 scenario? Kirk Cousins, whom Costello recalls the team showing interest in after Smith was sucker-punched in 2015.

West Notes: Broncos, Fitz, Mahomes, Rams

The Broncos my have lost their 10th game of the season on Sunday, but they also got a glimpse at a potential quarterback target in Washington signal caller Kirk Cousins. Playing on his second straight franchise tag, the 29-year-old posted close to 300 yards and tossed three scores against a very formidable Broncos defense. It was a performance that made Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post ask, “is Cousins worth $30MM?”

In fact, many Broncos defenders seemed to think that he could be worth that type of investment this offseason.

“A lot of teams would literally kill to have a quarterback like that,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller said.

“He’s the real deal as a quarterback,” Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall added.

Kiszla proclaimed that Cousins is unlikely to get another franchise tag given just how detrimental a guaranteed cap number like that would be on the Redskins roster. This would mean that Denver would have the opportunity to invest a lot of money in the soon-to-be free agent QB.

Denver clearly needs to address their quarterback situation this offseason. It’s clear that Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler are more backups, with Paxton Lynch still needing major development even when he gets healthy.

There’s a lot of QB needy teams in the NFL, but the Broncos got a personal look on Sunday of what Cousins could bring to a team that’s been craving any sort of offense since Peyton Manning retired after their Super Bowl 50 run.

Here’s more from the NFL’s West divisions:

  • Even though Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald signed a one-year contract extension during the season, that does not mean it’s a guarantee he will return to the football field in 2018. However, Fitz looks to be in a much better position to return than a year ago, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Rapoport suggests that the 34-year-old is much healthier than at the conclusion of the 2016 regular season. He’s also on track to post better numbers this year, as he’s just slightly behind his 2016 totals in receptions and yards, while just needing another touchdown to surpass his six scores from a season ago. Fitzgerald is a surefire Hall of Famer as well, but could also be motivated to surpass Terrell Owens on the all-time receiving list. He sits just a few hundred yards behind T.O. and would assuredly pass him if he remains healthy in 2018. Fitz has clearly shown that he can continue to play at a high level in his mid-30’s, so there’s hope from Cardinals fans he could return for another season in Arizona.
  • With their win yesterday, the Chiefs have clinched the AFC West and the fourth seed in the AFC. This means that rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes could get the start or at least see a lot of playing time in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Broncos. But as expected, head coach Andy Reid wasn’t tipping his hand about how the team will approach the QB position next week. “We’ll get through Christmas and then we’ll get on with that,” Reid said. There had been some speculation that Reid may turn to Mahomes during the team’s midseason losing streak, but veteran Alex Smith has bounced back in a big way and led Kansas City to their second straight division title. Mahomes has been playing with the scout team and would probably be well served in getting some actual playing time in his first professional season.
  • While it was a very good day for a Rams franchise that clinched their first division title since 2003, the team was forced to deal with injuries to a pair of starters, reports Aiden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. Left guard Rodger Saffold was forced to exit the game with a rib injury, but head coach Sean McVay said after the victory that, “I think he’s OK.”. Gonzalez added that Saffold was “seen in good spirits” in the postgame celebration as well. However, linebacker Mark Barron‘s achilles injury could be worse than expected. The 28-year-old was a suprise inactive in Week 16 and has dealt with a variety of minor ailments throughout the season, according to Gonzalez. McVay wasn’t as clear with how his prognosis looked for the remainder of the season. “We’ll have some updates on that moving forward,” said the Rams head coach. If Barron should miss time, backup Cory Littleton would likely be forced into the starting lineup.

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Cousins, Cowboys

The Redskins are reportedly no longer considering the $28.8MM transition tag for Kirk Cousins in 2018. Instead, Washington wants to evaluate the quarterback down the stretch of the season to determine whether it wants to use the $34.5MM franchise tag on him, sign him to a long-term deal, or allow him to test free agency unencumbered. That’s just fine with Cousins.

You know, I can understand the unique situation that it is, and you’re trying to find value in every player at every position,” Cousins told 106.7 The Fan (transcription via Chris Lingebach of CBS DC). “If you still need five more games, or five-plus, to make a decision, so be it, but I’d like to think that I’ve played a lot of football here. I’ve been here six years and I think the people in the building have gotten to know me, who I am as a man, who I am as a football player, what I’m about and who I’m gonna be going forward and I’d like to think they can make an informed decision regardless. But if they need five more games, so be it, but I understand the need to find value and understand what you’re getting.”

At 5-6, the Redskins have just a 6.7% chance of reaching the postseason, per Football Outsiders, but there is still plenty riding on these final games.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Recently, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones indicated that he was backing down from his lawsuit threat against the NFL because the league promised to “get input from all the owners” on Roger Goodell‘s new deal, rather than leaving it up to just the Compensation Committee. No such deal has been made, however, according to NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart. Lockhart reiterated that the six-man committee has the sole power to approve an extension for the commissioner (link via PFT).
  • Redskins coach Jay Gruden says defensive lineman Jonathan Allen remains on course for returning from injured reserve this season (link via ESPN.com’s John Keim). Allen, who has missed the bulk of the season with a Lisfranc injury, can be activated off IR for the Week 15 game against the Cardinals.
  • Eagles defensive Brandon Graham registered his seventh sack of the season on Sunday and that triggered a $250K incentive in his 2017 contract, as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. By hitting that milestone, he also boosted his 2018 salary by $250K.
  • On Tuesday, the Giants announced that Eli Manning will be benched this week in favor of Geno Smith.

Redskins Not Considering Transition Tag For QB Kirk Cousins

The Redskins have several contractual options when it comes to quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ future with the organization. However, as NFL.com Ian Rapoport reports, they’re not considering one route. Rapoport writes that the Redskins believe the $28.8MM transition tag is “not considered a viable option.” Instead, the team will consider signing him to a $34.5MM franchise tag, signing him to a long-term contract, or letting him hit unrestricted free agency.

Kirk Cousins (vertical)As our own Zach Links noted back in July, the transition tag would always be a considerable risk. Several general managers believed that rival teams could offer Cousins a giant signing bonus, making it difficult for his incumbent team to match. As Zach also noted, “any club would have to pay an exorbitant amount to steal Cousins, but a bid that the Redskins don’t match wouldn’t entitle them to any compensation for his departure.” Ultimately, there’s little incentive to this particular route.

Regardless, as Rapoport writes, the Redskins decision will ultimately depend on Cousins play down the stretch. If the quarterback is able to single-handedly lead his team to a handful of wins over the final stretch of the season, the organization could easily justify him as their franchise quarterback. However, if Cousins continues to put up pedestrian numbers, it’d be tough to justify the $34.5MM franchise tag (which will be the third straight year the Redskins have slapped him with the tag). Cousins has been heating up as of late, and he’s completed 66.7-percent of his passes this season for 2,796 yards, 17 touchdowns, and five interceptions. However, the Redskins are an underwhelming 4-6.

It’ll still be some time before we get any clarity on the situation. The two sides aren’t allowed to negotiate until the end of the season, and Cousins’ camp will surely wait to see if the organization assigns him with the franchise tag. Ultimately, as Rapoport writes, the “choice is in Cousins’ hands.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Osweiler, Cousins, Jim Harbaugh

The Broncos have tried to tinker their playbook a bit to suit Brock Osweiler‘s strengths, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). However, Rapoport calls tonight’s matchup with New England Osweiler’s final audition, and if he should continue to struggle, Paxton Lynch — who is reportedly getting healthier — will be given the chance to show what he can do.

Now for more rumors from the AFC (we rounded up some NFC nuggets earlier today):

  • Rich Cimini of ESPN.com believes that the Jets‘ chances to acquire Kirk Cousins in the offseason improved after Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to San Francisco, thereby (presumably) taking the 49ers out of contention for Cousins’ services. Of course, it all depends on what Washington does, but Cimini thinks New York will make a major QB acquisition one way or another. He thinks the club will either pursue Cousins or another quality veteran (like Alex Smith, should he become available) or else trade up for one of the top signal-callers in the draft.
  • Browns LT Joe Thomas is battling an injured triceps that has knocked him out for the remainder of the season, and he remains undecided about his future, even though Cleveland gave him a pay raise for the 2018 season. As Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com writes, however, the Browns’ outlook could play a role in his decision. Thomas said, “Is it going to be for trying to pursue a championship or are we trying to pursue a playoff berth or are we trying to pursue a first pick overall? Those are all things that could play into that decision.”
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says that, when the 49ers were considering trading former head coach Jim Harbaugh, the Browns offered San Francisco two third-round picks and offered Harbaugh a five-year, $40MM contract. Harbaugh, though, did not want to go to Cleveland, but sources close to the current University of Michigan head coach say his eventual return to the league is “inevitable.”
  • Rookie Gareon Conley might be the Raiders‘ most talented corner, but he has only been able to appear in two games in 2017 due to a shin injury that has taken longer than expected to heal. Per Scott Bair of NBCSports.com, Conley’s prospects for the remainder of the year will become clearer this week. If he is able to return to practice, he could work his way back into the mix. If not, Oakland will place him on injured reserve, thereby ending his first professional season.

East Notes: Dolphins, Suh, Cousins

The Dolphins strongly denied a report indicating that they are ready to move on from defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The Fins are telling the truth, Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald writes, but they were fed up with his behavior in years past. Since then, Suh has celebrated his 30th birthday and he seems to have turned over a new leaf in the locker room. Suh is in better standing with coaches, but there’s still the matter of his onerous contract. Suh counts for $19.1MM against the cap this season and that will climb to $26.1MM in 2018. The Dolphins could save up to $17MM in cap space by designating him a post-June 1 cut, but Salguero expects the two sides to discuss some kind of restructured deal to keep the union going.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • The 49ers’ trade for Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t alter Kirk Cousins‘ future with the Redskins, John Keim of ESPN.com opines. Even with the Niners out of the Cousins equation, the Redskins will still probably have to tag Cousins for a third consecutive year. However, the Redskins could get bold and use the less expensive transition tag on Cousins now that the cash-flush Niners are (ostensibly) out of the picture. With the transition tag, the Redskins would receive no compensation if they decline to match another team’s offer. The Cardinals, Jets, Jaguars, Ravens, Browns, and Broncos are among the clubs that could be in search of a QB this spring.
  • Brian Hoyer‘s three-year deal with the Patriots calls for him to earn $476K in 2017, $915K in 2018, and a $2.85MM base salary ($1.5MM of which is guaranteed) in 2019, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). He could also earn a $200K roster bonus in ’19, bringing the total value of the deal to $4.44MM. The fifth day of the 2019 league year – the date the bonus is due – will be pivotal in determining whether Hoyer finishes out the full three-year pact, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. Per the terms of his previous deal with the Niners, Hoyer is eligible for termination pay from SF through 2018.

NFC Notes: Lions, Shepard, Redskins, Wilson

Recently appearing before a congressional subcommittee regarding brain injuries in football, former Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy said his former organization didn’t want him speaking about CTE.

“The moment I said anything about it, I had two calls telling me I shouldn’t talk about it,” Levy said (via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com). “I don’t know if it was because it was CTE, or if it was because it’s just the general NFL rule of, like, only football. Only talk about football, only think about football. I posted simply the research … and I was told not to talk about it the first day it was out. And I’m just, like, you know, it could have just been locker room culture. Nobody wants to talk about anything other than football. But it didn’t sit well with me when I’m talking about brain injuries.

“It’s my brain. It’s not my shoulder, it’s my brain. It controls everything I do, it controls everything we think, everything we feel. And if I don’t have the right to speak about that as a player, I think it really speaks about the culture of the NFL, of what those conversations are. I think that’s indicative of the conversations that we don’t hear. The closed-door conversations between owners. They still are trying to find ways to silence us.”

The Lions responded to their former player’s statement, saying “[w]e are aware of his comments and we strongly disagree with this claim that anyone from our organization tried to silence him.”

Levy, 30, spent his entire eight-year career in Detroit. After being named as a second-team All-Pro in 2014, the linebacker signed a lucrative extension with the organization. However, a hip, knee, and meniscus injury ultimately forced him to hang up his cleats, and he’s since spent his team advocating for CTE awareness.

“I don’t think the owners are in touch with it,” Levy said. “It’s a business. We’re a number. Our brains and bodies are disposable.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Matthew Stafford is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s matchup against the Saints with an ankle injury, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that the Lions quarterback is expected to play. The 29-year-old is one pace for one of his most efficient NFL season, as he’s completed 64.2-percent of his pass attempts for 1116 yards, nine touchdowns, and only one interception.
  • The Giants placed three wideouts (Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris) on the injured reserve this past week, and it looks like they’ll be without another top receiver for at least this weekend. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets that wideout Sterling Shepard is out for tomorrow’s contest in Denver. The former second-rounder has hauled in 22 receptions for 263 yards and one touchdown this season.
  • Back in 2012, the Redskins had selected quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round despite using the second-overall pick on fellow quarterback Robert Griffin III. However, as former offensive coordinator (and current 49ers head coach) Kyle Shanahan explains, the team was actually eyeing another notable signal-caller with that fourth-round selection. “Actually, our goal was we were going to take Russell Wilson in the fourth round knowing what type of offense we were going to run, and we wanted to pair some guys with that, but he went before that,” Shanahan said (via Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee). “And we had Kirk ranked high. He was there in the fourth. He fell that far, so we thought it made a lot of sense for the organization.”

NFC East Notes: Cousins, 49ers, Cowboys

With the Redskins playing the Niners this week, Kirk Cousins is getting swarmed with questions about his history – and potential future – with Kyle Shanahan. During a conference call with reporters, Cousins said that the Shanahans’ plan in 2012 was to develop him, play him in the preseason, then trade him for picks to help the Redskins build for the future (Twitter link via Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee).

Fortunately for the Redskins, Mike Shanahan and his son did not follow through on that plan. And, fortunately for the 49ers, it doesn’t sound like Cousins is holding a grudge for any of that.

Here’s more on Cousins plus other news out of the NFC East:

  • It’s not just the Niners that could land Cousins in free agency this offseason. Mike Sando of ESPN.com weighed the possibility of the Redskins signal caller signing with several different QB-needy teams, including the Jets. The Jets, of course, have no plausible solution at quarterback going forward and free agency could be their answer if they don’t like the QBs in their draft range this year. Sando also considers teams like the Dolphins, Browns, Bills, Jaguars, and Vikings as possibilities.
  • Redskins coach Jay Gruden readily admits that it could be difficult for the team to keep Cousins this offseason (link via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com). “At the end of the day this is a business and contracts are what they are,” Gruden said. “Players have agents and the player is always going to do what he thinks is best for himself and the family. Kirk is a great guy and we intend on keeping him. That is the plan, I would think. I’m sure not just San Francisco, if he was a free agent, I’m sure there’s a lot of teams that would be coming after him, not just San Francisco. The more tape that Kirk puts on film that he performs well like he has the last couple weeks, the harder it will be to keep him around but I think we’ll do the best we can to keep him.”
  • Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says that Stephen Paea‘s decision to retire was “all about not being able to play any more to the level he felt like he wanted to play at,” (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). Paea was dealing with a knee injury that was affecting his performance and decided to hang ’em up on Wednesday.
  • Former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan believes that Colin Kaepernick should be playing. “You know, I’m not gonna get into the politics about it, because I’m not in an office right now where I’m around it every day. I just know this: when I was in Seattle, we had some great battles, the 49ers and Seahawks. Some with Alex [Smith], and then Alex left and then Colin took over. Colin’s a good football player,” McCloughan said to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. “From the talent standpoint, no doubt about it, he should be in the league. No doubt about it.”