The last time the Redskins had back-to-back winning seasons? Twenty years ago. In 1996 they went 9-7, and in 1997 they went 8-7-1. They didn’t make the playoffs either year. Two years later, Daniel Snyder bought the team from for $800 million, and they’ve been a disaster ever since.
But over the last two years, a 4th round draft pick has come out of nowhere to put the Robert Griffin III train wreck into the rear view mirror, re-write the Redskins record books, and guide Washington to back-to-back winning seasons (including one playoff appearance): Kirk Cousins.
I didn’t think this was possible, but the Redskins appear hell bent on screwing up this situation with the franchise QB, and may lose him over a) Money, b) a front office power struggle.
This one is easy. You pay Cousins big money. If you’re starting a franchise today, Cousins is definitely a Top 10 QB. As we’ve chronicled, QBs in the NFL are aging. Before the start of next season, six of the best QBs in the NFL will be 35 or older.
Cousins, who turns 29 in August, gives the Redskins stability at the most important position in football for at least next half-decade. Why would you not want that at any cost? This is what has me nervous for the Redskins, via Peter King at MMQB:
I am stunned Washington GM Scot McCloughan could pay Cousins the whopper franchise number of $24 million a year, particularly when there’s a sense the franchise likes him a lot but isn’t sold on him. But what’s the alternative? If Washington doesn’t franchise him, San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan steals him. The Niners still could steal Cousins after being franchised—and after the draft—by signing him and hoping Washington doesn’t match but rather takes the 49ers’ first-round picks in 2018 and 2019. (If not franchised and signed before the draft, Cousins would fetch a team’s 2017 and 2018 first-rounders, trouble because San Francisco owns the second overall pick in April.) Washington blanches at the thought of paying Cousins $44 million over 2016 and 2017, but it’s more likely than not to happen. The alternative, losing Cousins and not having a remotely sure thing in the wings, is worse.
How terrified would you be if you’ve waited two decades for a franchise QB, and now you could lose him over a few millions and only have draft picks to show for it?
Yes, it is difficult to build a consistent winner after paying a QB big bucks. Ask the Saints. Ask the Giants. Ask the Steelers. Ask the Packers. Ask the Ravens. Ask the 49ers. Getting back to a Super Bowl is challenging. The Patriots are the only team that has done it consistently over the last 15 years (seven Super Bowl trips).
The winning formula in the NFL goes like this: Find a QB, pay him, build around him. The Redskins are 1/3 of the way there. To get 2/3, they just have to open their wallet.