Sorry, all you people drinking the Kirk Cousins Haterade. This is not a bash Kirk story.
The Redskins put themselves in a pickle by mismanaging – there’s no other word for it – negotiations for Cousins to the point where they can neither afford to keep him, nor can they afford to release him.
No one understands this better than Capt. Kirk and his agent, Mike McCartney.
(Fathers, tell your QB sons to sign with McCartney.)
And this is not a question of money. It’s the pick. Trading a first-round Draft pick for Kirk is too high a price.
Kirk can only demand a high value deal from other teams if he is a free agent. No team will both trade a high pick and accept a franchise tag. That’s a problem … for Washington.
Cousins was the eighth-best paid quarterback in 2016 according to Spotrac. If that’s a surprise to you, then you focused more on Cousins’ guaranteed $19.9 million salary, than on total compensation. Whatever his faults, Cousins out-performed his contract.
The seven quarterbacks ahead of him had incentives wrapped in their deal.
Incentives help teams to manage the yearly cap hits to player’s contract.
Cousins and his agent are content to see his prospects as a series of annual contracts with escalating guaranteed salary.
The ‘Skins stonewalled Cousins’ 2015 proposal of a $20 million per year deal, two years guaranteed. In hindsight, that was a bargain. What a huge miss for Washington.
But, the Redskins could parse a Draft pick offer to accept a third-round pick and a conditional future pick. Kirk has leverage even there.
Teams don’t trade players. They trade contracts for players. If Kirk does not like a trade, he can simply play out his one-year franchise contract and then he is free. NOT a good scenario for the other team.
It’s the pick, not the money, that hamstrings the Redskins.
This deal is playing out just the way the NFL Players’ Association hoped.
There are two lessons for the Redskins and everyone else.
Don’t play chicken with a man who does not blink.
Don’t play franchise tag with quarterbacks. Any other position OK, but not quarterbacks.
We say a long-term deal won’t happen until after the season but before the start of the new league year (March 2018).