Washington NFL Rumors & News

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.

Looking Ahead To 2018 For Kirk Cousins

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins could hit free agency next offseason, which would force the team to engage in a bidding war if it wants to retain him, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see Cousins re-sign in 2018, writes Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. The standoff between the Redskins and Cousins isn’t personal, notes Graziano, who expects him to stay with them if they make him the best offer. Otherwise, Graziano runs down a slew of other potential suitors that could make Cousins one of the richest players in the game if he reaches the open market in March. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests that a Cousins derby could look a bit like Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White’s trip to free agency in 1993, when most of the league pursued him before he signed with Green Bay, as well as the sweepstakes for quarterback Peyton Manning in 2012. Manning drew vast interest before joining the Broncos.

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.

Kirk Cousins’ Asking Price $24MM Per Year?

After the ESPN.com report presenting the bleak prognosis for a Kirk Cousins long-term deal by Monday’s franchise tag deadline, Mark Jones of the Washington Post details some of the numbers believed to be involved in this process.

Kirk Cousins (vertical)Jones notes an extension by Monday is unlikely, but the Redskins reporter adds the price changed over the past year — with the franchise tag’s value having plenty to do with it. Now that Cousins is set to earn a guaranteed $23.94MM on a second tag, agent Mike McCartney set the starting point for a long-term Washington deal at $24MM annually. The Redskins were not ready to meet that demand. However, Redskins brass upped their offer considerably over the past year.

ESPN’s John Keim reported Cousins received an initial proposal of a middling $12MM-per-year salary before seeing a $16MM-AAV offer come his way last year. With Cousins’ 2016 tag giving him a $19.9MM salary, McCartney’s demand last year hovered around $20MM per year. But Washington “bristled” at that demand last year, per Jones. Interestingly, the Redskins were ready to pay $20MM annually this year, submitting a five-year, $100MM offer to Cousins.

But with the tag price going up and the $25MM-per-year cost of Derek Carr‘s deal (and Matthew Stafford‘s expected pact anticipated to be north of that), $20MM AAV was no longer satisfactory, leading to the 2017 impasse.

Jones adds that for the Redskins to sign Cousins, a deal worth around $28MM per year — which would be the transition tag amount, should Washington go that route — would need to be committed. (No NFL player has ever signed for more than $25MM per year.) Guarantees at signing for said agreement would need to be $52-$58MM and additional guarantees of between $30-$35MM. Carr signed for $40MM guaranteed at signing, with $30MM more in total guarantees. The Redskins have not been willing to authorize this kind of a pact for Cousins.

Jones reports Cousins has told some he would like to test free agency to see what is out there for him. He will turn 30 by the time he would be set to play for the 2018 Redskins or another team, but with franchise-level passers never reaching that stage, Cousins would surely be in demand.

After Monday, Cousins’ price should go up again because of the costs associated with another one-year rental in 2018. A franchise tag would cost more than $34MM in 2018, and the Lions and Falcons potentially set to raise the per-year salary bar for Stafford and Matt Ryan, respectively, quarterbacks will soon be in line to command more.

That said, Cousins lost two 1,000-yard receivers in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, and the architect of the offenses that enabled him to establish new Redskins single-season benchmarks is also gone. Without his wideouts or Sean McVay, Cousins may have tougher sledding in matching the kind of seasons he posted under the previous setup. But barring a massive regression, the quarterback’s asking prices probably won’t plummet considerably.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kirk Cousins Deal Not Expected By Deadline

The latest coming out of the Kirk Cousins/Redskins impasse isn’t necessarily surprising based on the events of recent weeks, or the past two summers, for that matter. But ESPN’s Adam Schefter added a wrinkle to the proceedings on Sunday.

Schefter reports (on Twitter) Cousins is not expected to sign an extension with the Redskins by 3pm CT Monday. However, the sixth-year quarterback is open to doing so after this season.

Washington would again retain exclusive negotiating rights with the passer in between this season and the 2018 free agency period, and the recent improved tone of the talks may work in the team’s favor. The discussions have taken on a more constructive nature, per Schefter, but the soon-to-be 29-year-old Cousins still wants to play this season on the tag. He stands to make $23.94MM if so. He will total just more than $44MM over the past two years based on this arrangement.

The development in Cousins’ talks with Washington brass represents hope for a long-term union after one previously didn’t exist, with ESPN.com’s John Keim reporting (on Twitter) the vibe changed over the past few months. Cousins assumed he would be done in D.C. after 2017 as recently as this spring, but Keim reports a long-term agreement between the parties is in play come 2018.

Should the sides fail to strike a deal, one that Schefter notes isn’t completely out of the question, Cousins will be the first quarterback in NFL history to play two consecutive seasons on the tag. A third tag would cost the franchise $34.478MM, with the lesser-used transition tag amount coming to $28.732MM. The latter figure could prompt another team with more cap space to prepare an offer sheet for Cousins designed to make it difficult for the Redskins to match, so the franchise tag would seem the likelier scenario if this goes all the way to next March.

Keim noted earlier this week Cousins’ side is using the quarterback’s potential free agency — and possible full guarantee north of $50MM — as leverage. The team isn’t willing to, at this juncture, offer nearly that much, Keim reports. Cousins could be in position to easily surpass the $50MM guaranteed come March, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets.

He adds that it’s uncertain if the Redskins have submitted a better offer than their five-year, $100MM proposal that leaked earlier this offseason. Low-ball offers of $12MM and $16MM per year irritated the Cousins camp after the 2015 season, but it looks like the sides are closer together as of now. Of course, the Redskins have a murkier front office future as well, further complicating this situation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.