Will you people please stop with the Derek Carr contract comparison to Kirk Cousins.
One of these things is not like the other. ~ Sesame Street
Raiders QB Derek Carr’s new deal with his team caused quite a stir in Washington, Detroit, Green Bay and perhaps two other NFL markets.
An NFL.com story that Carr’s deal was structured to “help retain our stars” caused inevitable fan comments about Kirk Cousins “greed.” The noise comes from the recalcitrant few who have yet to buy into Capt. Kirk, the man, the myth, the legend.
That’s OK. Fans get to think that way. Carr’s situation is in no way comparable to Cousins, however.
Let’s count the ways.
No. 1 The Raiders made up their mind about Carr in his third NFL season, before the normal “contract year” scenario came into play. He has had 47 consecutive starts as the starting quarterback. Cousins has 41 total starts, 32 as the clear-cut starter. This was easy for the Raiders. The Raiders did not have an elephant in the room. Washington was distracted by Robert Griffin III.
No. 2 RGIII burst upon the scene in 2012 and it warped the front office’s view for the next three years. Griffin opened every preseason at the top of the depth chart. Despite injury and uneven play, the ‘Skins exercised his $16 million fifth-year option in 2015. Coach Jay Gruden benched Griffin that preseason and made it stick with the backing of then GM Scot McCloughan apparently in some celebrity death match against the owner. Washington might have extended Kirk’s rookie contract in 2015 at numbers that today would look stupidly smart. RG’s fifth-year option got in the way.
No. 3 The Raiders did not play franchise tag with Carr. Their first opportunity to franchise Carr would have been 2018 and only if they failed to reach a long-term deal. They avoided the pit. Thus, Carr will receive $25 million cash compensation this season, but count $15 million against the salary cap. Carr did not “take one for the team.” His team did a deal that pays him while providing cap room to sign other players.
Quarterback is the highest paid, hardest to find position in football. Don’t play franchise tag with starting quarterbacks. Just don’t.
No. 4 The Raiders did not get caught up in “the number.” The Redskins brain trust, and quite a few fans, have been fixated on the salary of franchised quarterbacks. “But Kirk is not worth [fill in the blank with your favorite comparison].” Well, neither Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Matt Flynn, Derek Carr nor Jimmy Garoppolo are options for Washington to sign. (They are all rooting for Kirk, by the way.) If any of them reach free agency next season, the cost to sign them will be higher than the cost to sign Kirk today.
No. 5 The Raiders always developed Carr to be a starter. Cousins played like a back-up when the Redskins developed him to be the back-up. When they developed him to be the starter, he played like a starter. How can we tell? Compare Kirk’s game stats for the first six games in 2014 to his first six games in 2015. They are near identical. The only difference is that Coach Gruden stuck with Kirk in 2015.
Check that out for yourself. Or, just trust me.