QUESTION: We expect the Redskins to franchise tag Kirk Cousins tomorrow, March 1. A Facebook friend asks this question on one of the Redskins fan groups, “I’m confused by a few reports. If Cousins does receive a non-Exclusive tag and another team signs him, my understanding is the compensation is two First-Rounders, am I correct?”
HOG HEAVEN’S ANSWER: You’re confused? It’s complicated!
With the Non-exclusive tag, Kirk can negotiate with other teams to reach an offer. If the Redskins match, he stays with Washington at a price the team must suck up. If they do not match, the other team must give up two first-round Draft picks. The complication? Kirk is worth $24 to $26 Million per year as a free agent. It’s unlikely any team will offer that much AND give up first round picks. (Well, Cleveland maybe, but I hope Kirk does not land there.)
UPDATE: The Redskins placed the exclusive rights franchise tag on QB Kirk Cousins this afternoon.
However, the Redskins could decide to unload Kirk’s salary by taking lesser picks, say a second-round pick and a conditional future pick, and then rebuild from that. They would “win” on their 2012 fourth-round investment in Kirk with the upgrade to a second-round pick in 2017. The choice is up to the Redskins.
From reports, it seems the Redskins are as eager to test what picks other teams could offer as Kirk’s people are to test what salary other teams could offer. None of this testing can happen before March 1.
The alt-Kirk future is a bizarre picture
It would take a full season for a veteran free agent QB to join the team and get into Gruden’s offense. We’d be better off starting Colt McCoy. That’s where the irony begins.
McCoy lost his starting job in Cleveland to Brandon Weedon, who was followed by former Redskins QB Jason Campbell and then Brian Hoyer, the man Cousins followed at Michigan State.
Jason retired, but Weedon and Hoyer are available free agents. Those are your value plays, folks.
The ‘Skins could make a run at Tony Romo or Jay Cutler if they get released. Both are aged, injury-prone and not likely to accept a vet minimum, one-year contract.
The Redskins would face a tougher time recruiting top free agents without a “name” QB on the roster. Right now, Kirk Cousins is the top free agent quarterback; the very player the Redskins would crave if he were on another team. There is no close second.
So, you think you want a rookie quarterback instead?
If we learned anything from the Robert Griffin III – Kirk Cousins adventure, it is that It takes 36 games before you know what you have a rookie player. For quarterbacks, it takes 36 game starts for a talented rookie to “get” the NFL offense. It’s why judgments are made about players in the third year of their rookie contracts.
Stepping up from playoff contender to Super Bowl contender would be less certain in any of these alt-Kirk scenarios.
The Snyderskins have never handled uncertainty, or success, very well. The most rational choice is to re-sign Kirk to a long-term deal.
If the Redskins are over a barrel, they put themselves there.
A $12 to $!4 million per year contract is something the team might have offered Cousins in 2014, if Head Coach Gruden, with a nudge by the front office, had not banished Cousins to Outer Siberia after a poor six-game start.
An offer of $19 to $20 million per year would have been a bargain if offered to Cousins at the end of 2015. Cousins got off to a poor start that year too. Hog Heaven looked at his game stats over his first six games. They are virtually identical to 2014. The only difference is that Coach Gruden stuck with Cousins in 2015. Cousins reached his 36th start in 2016.
The Redskins did not learn anything new about Cousins in 2016 that they did not know after 2015. There was a legit case for demanding consistency of performance by Cousins. They should have known how the numbers would shake out when Kirk delivered.
Shame on them if they did not.