The Washington Redskins don’t know a good thing when it’s right in front of them. Despite a depleted offensive line and injuries to key skill position players, Cousins looked like one of the league’s top quarterbacks. He didn’t crack the top five (probably reserved for Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger). But Cousins is hovering just outside of it. He finished 2017 with 4,093 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
The fact that Washington hasn’t committed long-term to Cousins means he should get away from the Redskins. Of course, there’s more to it than that — but it all stems from the organization’s commitment-phobia. Teams like the Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars and even Arizona Cardinals might sniff around Cousins if he hits free agency. Heck, some of those teams are probably already lining up for him. And frankly, the organizations are better run and have truer Super Bowl aspirations than the Redskins.
At one point, you could see what the Redskins were doing by stringing Cousins along. They were trying to get a better evaluation to see if their quarterback was for real. They could leave the golden carrot dangling in front of Cousins to motivate him while getting a better sense of who he was as a quarterback. Was he #elite?
A lack of job security can be a motivator in some cases. But the situation went on far too long. It has begun to cripple the organization with dysfunction and indecision.
The result has left Cousins and coach Jay Gruden in a challenging situation. There’s tension, mostly because there’s no sense of a long-term plan. The Redskins have been a win above or below .500 for the last three years, which puts them in an awkward draft location where promising quarterbacks don’t typically fall in the first round. Signing Cousins on a franchise tag also doesn’t help their cap management. The situation doesn’t have many redemptive elements anymore.
“I think something has to be done,” Gruden said on Washington’s 106.7 The Fan on Jan 8. “I personally don’t want to go through another one-year deal, and just 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.”
That wishy-washy language is a product of a lack of job security. He’s not taking a stand for Cousins, because Gruden knows he doesn’t have power to keep Cousins around. And he also knows he could get stuck with another quarterback this summer. Gruden is wise not to alienate that incoming quarterback by tying himself to Cousins.
Former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan is now trashing Cousins at any interview he can get (and he’s not getting many). McCloughan and Bruce Allen are the men responsible for Cousins’ messy station. And no matter who you ask, it’s the other guy’s fault. Last year at this time, word was leaking out about a front office rift, which hampered completing a Cousins deal. Allen looked bad when he claimed McCloughan’s absence at key draft functions was because of a family matter, only to remove him shortly thereafter, with leaks smearing the general manager with rumors of renewed alcohol abuse. MMQB’s Albert Breer wrote the dysfunction stemmed from McCloughan wanting a deal with Cousins before he blew up and could demand a bigger deal, and Allen dragging his feet. (So you can guess who provided info for that angle). But regardless of the truth, the proof is in the results: it was a circus. Cousins is still looking for a contract.
Which get us to the next point: the Redskins don’t know how to hire a general manager and Bruce Allen is still, de facto, in charge with Snyder always waiting to swoop in with an opinion. In fact, they’re considering not hiring another, according to The Washington Post. What could go wrong?
Cousins should start looking for another place to collect paychecks with a coach who is scared for his job, an organization without general manager and the Snyder-Allen show taking the spotlight.
The Redskins have the power. They can place another franchise tag on Cousins, if they really want to pay him an exorbitant $34 million for one more season. But Cousins could hold out and demand a trade. He can make it clear the team should draft his replacement. He has some power. He should use whatever leverage he’s got — and the NFL rules don’t give him much — to get away from the Redskins.
After years of indecision, Cousins deserves better than the Redskins.