Kirk Cousins

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.”

Albert Breer On Cousins, Garoppolo, Raiders

This year’s free agent quarterback market is shaping up to be one of the strongest in recent memory, Albert Breer of The MMQB writes. Teams are always eager to draft their next franchise QB, but this year it might make more sense for teams to sign a veteran instead. Kirk Cousins (vertical)

Fans and media want their guy—the start-from-the-bottom, untainted rookie,” one AFC exec told Breer. “And the Moneyball guys will say it’s cheaper through the draft, which is true. Bu if the point is to have a functional starting quarterback, any football guy will tell you that while everyone wants a Brady or Rodgers, the reality is those are fewer and father between. So a Kirk Cousins or a Jimmy Garoppolo? I think football guys are drooling over that. If a guy like that gets out in free agency? You see what K.C. can do with Alex Smith. Put Cousins on a good squad with a good coach, I don’t know many football guys that’ll say that won’t work. And all those guys you named, they all can play at a starting caliber level … You can solve your problem before you get to the draft.”

The crop of potentially available signal callers goes far beyond just Cousins and Garoppolo. Drew Brees, who turns 39 in January, has looked great through the first month of the season. At least one of the Vikings’ signal callers – Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater – should be there for the taking in March and the aforementioned Smith might not have a place in Kansas City thanks to the presence of Patrick Mahomes. Meanwhile, A.J. McCarron is still viewed as a hot property even though he’s on the Bengals’ bench.

Here’s more from Breer’s column:

  • Did the Patriots make a mistake by signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore this offseason? Gilmore made costly mental and communication errors against Carolina on Sunday and that’s nothing new, based on what three sources who were in Buffalo last season tell Breer. Gilmore did quite a bit of finger-pointing last year, they say, and also made business decisions on run plays as he nursed a shoulder injury. Gilmore is in Year One of a five-year, $65MM deal which included an $18MM signing bonus. The pact calls for $31MM fully guaranteed through 2018.
  • The Raiders didn’t give much consideration at all to signing a stopgap quarterback in the wake of Derek Carr’s injury, Breer hears. That could have been a deliberate move to keep the team’s confidence high, but he hears that the Raiders legitimately like what they have in EJ Manuel and Connor Cook. Eyebrows were raised when it was reported that the Raiders did not consider signing Colin Kaepernick, but it sounds like they didn’t give real though to signing any quarterback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cousins, Foster, Scandrick, Cards

The Redskins are using the franchise tag arrangement with Kirk Cousins once again, and some more information about how the franchise planned its negotiations this past summer has emerged. Washington submitted the offer Bruce Allen referenced — a five-year proposal worth just less than $110MM, with $53MM fully guaranteed at signing — in May, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. But Rapoport adds the team did not do anything to sweeten its offer in the months that followed, leading to the stalemate dragging past July 17.

This lack of a notably different second offer came in spite of Allen meeting with Cousins’ agent in Chicago and the Redskins president meeting with Cousins and his father in a four-plus-hour summit Rapoport describes as friendly. Allen, per Rapoport, said he would make another proposal between then and the July 17 deadline. But it did not arrive, and the same offer ended up being a take-it-or-leave-it submission.

Washington cannot renegotiate with Cousins until after the season, when the price for a tag will skyrocket — up to approximately $34MM — and put the Redskins to a higher-stakes decision.

Here’s the latest from the NFC as the conference’s Week 1 slate winds down.

  • Orlando Scandrick broke his hand during the Cowboys‘ Sunday-night win over the Giants, Rapoport reports (on Twitter). However, the veteran slot cornerback underwent surgery on Monday and is adamant on playing in Week 2. Scandrick’s goal might have been a bit optimistic, though. The surgery was a success, per ESPN.com’s Todd Archer, but the Cowboys don’t sound like they’re counting on him next week. Week 3 looms as a target, Archer notes. Scandrick missed four games last season and struggled with foot trouble. He’s back in his primary role, though, and is a key cog on a Cowboys defense that lost multiple cornerback regulars in free agency.
  • While an official timetable for Reuben Foster‘s high-ankle sprain isn’t yet known, Kyle Shanahan is expecting the first-round pick to miss at least a month. The rookie 49ers coach said Monday, via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter), the four-to-six-week range would be the typical hiatus length. The 49ers are down to their third option at outside linebacker after Malcolm Smith tore a pectoral muscle and was lost for the season in training camp.
  • Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Monday morning that left tackle D.J. Humphries will miss a week or two with a sprained MCL. John Wetzel is expected to start in his absence. Humphries debuted on the left side on Sunday after he and Jared Veldheer switched positions in the offseason.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

NFC East Notes: Cousins, Foles, Cowboys

The record-setting contract extension the Lions awarded quarterback Matthew Stafford on Monday will raise Redskins signal-caller Kirk Cousins‘ asking price and make it even more difficult for the team to re-sign him at season’s end, Mike Jones of the Washington Post points out. With Cousins scheduled to hit free agency next winter, the Redskins could place the franchise tag on him for a third straight year if there’s no deal in place prior to free agency, but that would mean guaranteeing him upward of $34MM. Jones expects the Redskins to apply the transition tag for a lesser cost – $28MM – and ultimately lose Cousins to a team willing to give him a massive long-term deal. The Redskins wouldn’t be entitled to any compensation in that scenario.

More from the NFC East:

  • Eagles quarterback Nick Foles hasn’t taken the field this preseason because of an elbow injury. Specifically, Foles has a flexor strain and inflammation around a nerve in his right elbow, a source told Les Bowen of Philly.com. While the source indicated that Foles had the same problem during his time with the Chiefs last year, it won’t affect his place on the Eagles’ roster or his regular-season availability, Bowen notes. The plan remains for him to back up Carson Wentz beginning in Week 1.
  • Cowboys tight end Rico Gathers has been dealing with a concussion for two weeks and could head to injured reserve as a result, Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. An IR placement for Gathers would keep him out of game action for at least the first eight weeks of the season and deprive Dallas of a burgeoning weapon. The former Baylor basketball player and 2016 sixth-round pick was a shoo-in to make the Cowboys’ 53-man roster prior to his injury, Davison relays. Gathers’ absence would leave the Cowboys with the experienced James Hanna as their No. 2 tight end behind Jason Witten, though he’s coming off a season lost to injuries and isn’t a receiving threat.
  • Owner Jerry Jones says that Jaylon Smith will have an “accelerated approach” towards the upcoming season (Twitter link via Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram). That’s a departure in philosophy from before, when Jones said the team would be deliberate in its approach with the Notre Dame product.
  • Tight end Will Tye, defensive ends Kerry Wynn and Romeo Okwara, wide receiver Dwayne Harris, kicker Aldrick Rosas and offensive lineman D.J. Fluker aren’t sure bets to make the Giants’ roster and could be on the block, James Kratch of NJ.com observes. Although, given that trades in the NFL are rare and nobody from that group holds much appeal, Kratch doesn’t expect Big Blue to make any deals in the coming days.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

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.