Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins: I Want To Stay With Redskins

Even though he turned down an extension offer from the Redskins in favor of playing on the franchise tag for the second year in a row, Kirk Cousins says he wants to remain with the Redskins for the rest of his career. Kirk Cousins (vertical)

I would love to be . . . a Redskin the rest of my career,” Cousins told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio (transcription via PFT). “When you look at the best of the best, those quarterbacks played with one team. And if you point to a couple guys who didn’t, who changed teams, it really was against their will: I think if Joe Montana or Peyton Manning had their way they would have stayed where they had won Super Bowls and played so well. They wouldn’t have played so well. So my desire is to stay with one team my entire career, and that would be Washington.”

There were rumors throughout the offseason that Cousins was unhappy in Washington and unwilling to stay in the long term. If Cousins is telling the truth here and not just being positive for the sake of keeping the team distraction-free, then the Redskins may be able to keep him with a market-value offer next offseason. If he really wants out, however, then he can hold the line and force the Redskins to either let him test the open market or give him the ultra expensive third franchise tag.

In late July, roughly 77% of PFR readers predicted that Cousins would not be a member of the Redskins in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Kirk Cousins’ Future

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins won’t be eligible to sign a multiyear contract until 2018, meaning his future will continue to be among the NFL’s most popular topics leading up to free agency next March. There are multiple ways in which the Redskins could prevent Cousins from reaching the open market, but as those who have paid any attention to his situation know, it’s going to be exceedingly difficult.

Kirk Cousins

Washington retained Cousins this offseason via the franchise tag for the second straight year, and it saw the price rise from $19.95MM to $23.94MM in the process. Both are palatable costs for Cousins, regardless of whether you believe he’s an elite-level signal-caller or merely a good one. On the other hand, the bill in 2018 for a third consecutive franchise tag – over $34MM – won’t be so appetizing.

While the Redskins could hit Cousins with the $28MM transition tag as a less expensive alternative, that wouldn’t prevent other teams from attempting to pry him away. 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. The other option for the Redskins is to sign Cousins long term, which they’ve tried to do, but it wouldn’t make much sense for the player to deprive himself of a chance to visit the open market and entertain pitches from around the league if he turns in another terrific season in 2017.

On the heels of his first two years as a starter, a period in which Cousins tossed 54 touchdowns against 23 interceptions, threw for 9,000-plus yards and completed over 68 percent of passes, the Redskins attempted to secure him on a five-year, $110MM extension proposal. Thanks in part to the $43MM-plus in guaranteed money he’ll make from 2016-17, though, Cousins was able to turn down long-term comfort now in hopes of landing an even richer deal in 2018.

While the soon-to-be 29-year-old Cousins is willing to stay in Washington for the foreseeable future (and the team will have plenty of cap space as it negotiates with him next winter), there’s a good chance spurning its offer will go down as a wise decision. With yet another productive season, Cousins would become the rare in-his-prime, franchise-caliber QB to reach free agency, following in the footsteps of Drew Brees in 2006, and many clubs would be in pursuit. Both the 49ers, with a Cousins fan in head coach Kyle Shanahan, and Browns have unsettled situations under center, significant spending room, and have been linked to Cousins this offseason. So, it’s easy to imagine them chasing him in 2018. They won’t be alone, though, with the Jaguars, Jets, Vikings, Cardinals, Rams, Broncos and Bills also standing out as teams that could plausibly participate in a Cousins sweepstakes.

How Cousins performs this season will be a fascinating precursor to what figures to be a riveting offseason for him and Washington. In Cousins, the Redskins found a gem in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, the same year they selected the once-dazzling but now-ruined Robert Griffin III at No. 2 overall. The Redskins believed at the time that RG3 would be the face of their franchise, but five years later, that distinction belongs to Cousins. Roughly eight months from now, though, the Redskins will once again be devoid at the game’s most important position if the very real possibility of Cousins going elsewhere comes to fruition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cards, Falcons, Panthers, Hawks

If Carson Palmer retires after the 2017 season, Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic (on Twitter) could see a scenario in which the Cardinals make a run at Kirk Cousins or perhaps Sam Bradford. Both players would be a schematic fit for the Cardinals and there won’t be a ton of other established quarterbacks available. If Cousins is an unrestricted free agent, the Cardinals could have a hard time bidding against the rival 49ers as they will be loaded with cap space.

A few more items from the NFC:

  • The popular belief for the past several months is that Falcons running back Devonta Freeman will sign a contract extension prior to the season, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk isn’t so sure anymore. Evidenced by the fact that Freeman still isn’t under contract past 2017, Florio observes that it hasn’t been an easy negotiation between the two sides, and he wonders if the 25-year-old will roll the dice and go without a new deal this season in hopes of upping his stock even more. As such, the Falcons might have to decide next offseason whether to place the franchise tag on Freeman for $12.1MM – a marked increase over his $1.8MM salary for this year – or let him hit the open market.
  • Panthers kicker Graham Gano is on the bubble thanks to the addition of seventh-round pick Harrison Butker, David Newton of ESPN.com writes. The selection of the Georgia Tech product was the first time the Panthers have ever drafted a place kicker and it’s a sign that they could be moving on from the veteran. Gano missed several big kicks last season and converted on just 78.9% of his attempts.
  • Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin still has to appear in front of a judge in August for his March arrest, but he has some good news on another front. Boykin has skirted jail time for a separate potential parole violation, as Gregg Bell of The News Tribune writes. Boykin was facing up to a year in jail for that charge, but he’ll pay a small fine instead. The Seahawks reportedly are not expecting Boykin to be disciplined by the league for his actions, so his off-the-field missteps shouldn’t impact his job security as Russell Wilson‘s backup.
  • It was a busy afternoon in Carolina, which signed guard Trai Turner to a big-money extension and said goodbye to offensive tackle Michael Oher.

Connor Byrne contributed to this post.

AFC Notes: Steelers, Jets, Cousins, Texans

Having not yet signed his exclusive rights free agent tender, Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva training camp status is in question, writes Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Villanueva signed a waiver that enabled him to participate in voluntary practices during the spring, but he indicated at the time that he’ll follow his agent’s advice regarding camp. With that in mind, the former Army Ranger captain could sit out if his representative, Jason Bernstein, suggests it. As Fittipaldo points out, though, Villanueva doesn’t have much leverage and will have no recourse but to play for the ERFA tender amount ($615K) if the Steelers don’t take it upon themselves to award him a raise. Unfortunately for the O-line stalwart, he won’t be eligible to cash in as an unrestricted free agent until after the 2018 season, when he’ll already be 30 years old.

More from the AFC:

  • “It’s hard to argue with” the idea that the Jets are tanking “when everybody else sees all the stuff that’s going on,” wide receiver Quincy Enunwa admitted on Sunday (via Zach Braziller of the New York Post). Whether the Jets actually are tanking is debatable, but it’s clear they’re rebuilding. The team has released a slew of veterans, including receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, since last season. When healthy, those two were above Enunwa on the team’s depth chart. Enunwa is now the Jets’ clear-cut No. 1 option, having broken out as a third-year man in 2016 with 58 receptions, 814 yards and four touchdowns.
  • With Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty as the Jets’ choices under center, Enunwa seems unlikely to benefit from high-end quarterback play this year. But with the Redskins unable to lock up Kirk Cousins beyond the upcoming season, that could change in 2018. The Jets will have upward of $80MM in cap space next offseason, which could make them a suitor for Cousins if he becomes a free agent, notes Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. However, considering Cousins will be entering his age-30 season in 2018, Cimini doesn’t see him as a fit for the young Jets.
  • Texans running back D’Onta Foreman has a July 31 court date in Texas stemming from his arrest this past weekend on misdemeanor drug and gun charges, but a postponement is likely, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Foreman will be out of state then with the Texans, who begin training camp in West Virginia on July 25.

More Reactions To Cousins/Redskins Talks

It’s time to trade Kirk Cousins, Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com opines. In Barnwell’s view, the Redskins blew it with Cousins by lowballing him and then bashing him in a bizarre public statement. At this juncture, it seems unlikely that Cousins will stay with the Redskins long term and Washington can only keep him off the open market with an expensive third franchise tag, giving a record $78.4MM over three seasons to a quarterback who they did not feel was worthy of big money.

Giving up Cousins in a trade might sting, but it would be even worse to lose him for nothing. Barnwell wonders if the 49ers might be willing to give up a 2018 second-round choice and Brian Hoyer in a trade. Or, perhaps the Browns would give up the Texans’ 2018 first-round pick plus a restructured Brock Osweiler. Neither trade feels like a big win for Washington, but it might be the logical move after the way things have played out.

Here’s more on Cousins:

  • If Washington was not going to sign Cousins long term, they should have drafted a quarterback or signed one in free agency, Mike Lombardi of The Ringer tweets. Without that, he says, the Redskins to operate with no leverage. To play devil’s advocate, the Redskins already have a quality backup in Colt McCoy and there’s weren’t a ton of affordable quarterbacks available who were clearly better than him in free agency this year. They also like Nate Sudfeld as their developmental quarterback. To drum up leverage, they would have had to draft a QB who was markedly better than Sudfeld, and that would have meant drafting one in the first two or three rounds. That’s a costly move to make for a leverage play.
  • Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, liked some very interesting tweets in the hours following the deadline, Peter Halley of CSNMidAtlantic.com writes. One tweet compared the Redskins to a desperate and bitter guy in a budding relationship.
  • Cousins’ future in Washington could partially hinge on how well he works with coach Jay Gruden this year, ESPN.com’s John Keim opines. With Sean McVay out of the picture, Gruden will be calling the plays and working more closely with Cousins than he has in the past. Cousins will probably also want to see the restructured Washington front office move in a positive direction.
  • In an interview on Tuesday morning, Cousins said that staying with the Redskins is still his first choice. However, he also confirmed that he did not send an offer to the team.

Kirk Cousins On Latest Round Of Talks

It’s not just about the money. Kirk Cousins says that he did not sign an extension with the Redskins in part because he wants to further evaluate the organization after its front office shakeup. Kirk Cousins (vertical)

We felt like we needed more time,” Cousins told 106.7 The Fan.

Of course, it also didn’t help that the Redskins did not improve their offer made in the spring. The last proposal he received from the team effectively only granted him two guaranteed seasons with an average annual value that he only would have accepted one full year ago.

Cousins also confirmed that he did not present the Redskins with an offer during this round of talks. He considered doing so as the deadline approached, but ultimately he held off.

Up until a week ago, I was praying over whether we should send them an offer,” Cousins said. “I felt peace about not making an offer and leaving it in the team’s court.”

If the lowball offer wasn’t insulting enough, then one might think that Cousins was offended by team president Bruce Allen referring to him as “Kurt” Cousins during a statement to the media on Monday afternoon. When it came to that, Cousins took the high road.

“I‘ve been called Kurt my entire life. … [It] doesn’t matter. It is what it is. It’s fine. Not a big deal.”

Cousins says his first choice is to stay with the Redskins, but we’ll find out if he really means it next offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reaction To Kirk Cousins/Redskins Talks

The Redskins’ final offer to quarterback Kirk Cousins was fewer than $110MM over five years, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. (Notably, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reported earlier today that Washington had increased its offer to more than $20MM, but less than $24MM annually). Given that Cousins is already due a guaranteed $24MM in 2017, the Redskins’ proposal was essentially six years, $134MM, an untenable total from Cousins’ point of view. Having failed to reach an extension, Cousins will now play out the season under the franchise tender.

Here’s more reaction to the negotiations between Cousins and the Redskins:

  • As Pelissero indicated earlier today, Washington effectively wanted to hand Cousins $53MM over two years and then control him via series of one-year options. But that type of contract structure has no benefit for players, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Going year-to-year is the far more profitable strategy, especially for quarterbacks. Cousins, indeed, has played the free agent game correctly, as he’s been unwilling to lock himself into a deal that would contain a multitude of non-guaranteed years tacked on at the end.
  • In a separate piece, Pelissero polled five executives regarding Cousins’ value, and all five ranked the Redskins’ signal-caller as a top-15 quarterback, while three graded as near or in the top-10. “[H]e’s a good point guard, knows where to go with it,” said one personnel man. “I never was sold on the guy too much, and then last year watching him — I know the money’s just getting ridiculous, but that’s what guys are getting.” It’s anecdotal data, to be sure, but the execs’ opinions could hint at a league-wide opinion of Cousins.
  • Given that the Redskins have made no serious attempt to keep Cousins around for the long haul, it could make sense for the club to trade Cousins now, opines Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com. If Washington simply allows Cousins to leave via free agency next spring, it will only acquire a compensatory pick in 2019. The Redskins could recoup more than that immediately, argues Barnwell, who suggests the 49ers could send a second-round choice and Brian Hoyer to Washington, while the Browns could be willing to send Houston’s first-rounder plus a restructured Brock Osweiler to the nation’s capital.
  • The Redskins’ statement on the Cousins negotiations said the club made its offer to Cousins on May 2, and that date should tell observers two things, according to Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap. First, Washington could have been shopping Cousins during the draft, which ended on April 30. In fact, trade rumors did surround Cousins during the draft, but he ultimately stayed put. Second, the Redskins may have been hoping one of Cousins’ preferred destinations — possibly San Francisco — selected a quarterback relatively early, negating any need for Cousins.

Redskins Issue Statement On Kirk Cousins

The Redskins failed to extend quarterback Kirk Cousins before the Monday afternoon deadline. Already, the public relations campaign to try and soothe irked fans is underway. Team president Bruce Allen read the following statement to reporters at Redskins park (Twitter link via Nona Princiotti‏ of The Washington Times): Kirk Cousins (vertical)

After discussions with Kirk face-to-face over the weekend, I want to clarify our negotiations for this year. Kirk is obviously important to our team and fans, and they deserve to know where things stand.

Our goal was to sign Kirk to a long-term contract with the final objective of having him finish his career with the Redskins.

On May 2nd, right after the draft, we made Kirk an offer that included the highest fully guaranteed amount upon signing for a quarterback in NFL history ($53MM) and guaranteed a total of $72MM for injury. The deal would have made him at least the second highest-paid player by average per year in NFL history.

But despite our repeated attempts, we have not received any offer from Kirk’s agent this year.

Kirk has made it clear that he prefers to play on a year-to-year basis. While we would have liked to work out a long-term contract before this season, we accept his decision.

We both share high hopes for this season and we are looking forward to training camp starting next week. And we remain hopeful that a long-term contract will be signed in the future.”

The Redskins want fans to know that they offered a great deal of money to Cousins before Monday’s deadline. While that is true, it does not tell the whole story. Cousins already has a $24MM guarantee for the coming season and the team’s final offer only provided him with $29MM in new guarantees, meaning that the new pact really only gave him two guaranteed years out of a presumed five.

When it comes to Cousins, it seems that the Redskins are one year behind the times. Cousins’ camp likely would have accepted this offer – or something similar – prior to the 2016 franchise tag extension deadline. After turning in another quality season, the price has gone up, but the Redskins have not moved accordingly.

The real headline here is that the Redskins claim they have not received a counter-offer from Cousins’ agent. If that is the case, then there might be no amount of money that could keep the QB in D.C. for the long run.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No Deal For Cousins, Bell, Johnson

The franchise tender extension deadline has come and gone. With no deals struck for the three players in question, we now know that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson will be playing out the 2017 season on one-year deals. Trumaine Johnson (vertical)

We’ve believed this to be the most expected outcome for a while now, though Bell was the most likely to sign of the trio. Although Bell might have liked to sign a multi-year deal before this afternoon’s deadline, all three players are still in great shape for the coming year. Cousins will make roughly $24MM on his second straight franchise tag. Johnson will make $16MM on his second time on the tender. Bell will collect a $12MM+ salary on his first ever franchise tag.

The Redskins, Steelers, and Rams can all use the franchise tag on these players next year, but the price would be uncomfortably high in the cases of Bell ($14MM) and Cousins ($34MM) and downright outlandish in the case of Johnson ($20MM). If all goes right for them in 2017, they’re all in position to get paid in 2018 and beyond, one way or another.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Deadline Approaching For Cousins, Bell, Johnson

A major deadline is fast approaching for Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson. If the three franchise-tagged players do not sign an extension with their respective clubs by 4pm ET/3pm CT, they will play out the season on a one-year tender and will not be able to reignite long-term talks until January. Le'Veon Bell (vertical)

So far, there hasn’t been significant movement towards a deal for any of the three players in question, though Bell is more likely to sign a multi-year pact than the other two. Then again, after last year’s deadline brought us a surprise accord between the Jets and Muhammad Wilkerson, nothing can be ruled out.

The Redskins have slowly upped their offer to Cousins over the last year, but a major gulf still divides the two parties. Cousins’ agent is said to be seeking $24MM annually on a new deal, a number reflective of his ~$24MM tender for 2017. The Redskins, meanwhile, have only offered $20MM per season on a five-year pact. The proposal, which was made back in May, only truly guarantees the first two years for Cousins, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. When considering the gap in dollars and the possibility that Cousins would rather be somewhere else long-term, it seems likely that the QB will play out the year on his tender.

On Monday morning, we heard that there was nothing imminent between the Steelers and Bell. Still, a long-term deal makes plenty of sense for both sides. Bell’s camp is aware of the injury risk that running backs carry and they would certainly forego some upside in favor of security. The Steelers, on the other hand, do not want to chance having to cuff Bell with a one-year, $14MM repeat franchise tender next offseason. Even though there hasn’t been a lot of reported progress on a deal in recent weeks, this one feels too logical not to happen.

On the flipside, it would be a shock to see the Rams and Johnson shake hands on a deal this afternoon. Johnson believes that he could be paid like a top cornerback on the open market next spring and unless he turns in a historically spectacular season, there’s little chance that the Rams will tag him for a third straight year at $20MM. Instead, Johnson will happily play out the year for $16.742MM and worry about his future next offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.