If Monday, July 17, comes and goes without a long-term contract agreement between Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins, it will mean that the quarterback is one step closer to the goal he set for himself after he was drafted behind Robert Griffin III in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft.
He will be one step closer to getting out of town.
If there is no contract agreement, it will mean Cousins will play for the second straight season under the franchise tag — last year for $20 million, this coming season for $24 million. And it could be the final season in Washington for Kirk Cousins.
Washington has the option of franchising him for a third season next year, but, at a cost of $34 million for one year, no one believes that will happen. A more likely option is the transition tag — which would allow Cousins to receive offers from other NFL teams, with the Redskins having the option to match the offers.
However, if the Redskins match the offer, then Cousins will be forced to remain in Washington — not the endgame, I suspect, that he’s been working toward all along.
Cousins has been laying the groundwork to leave since the first time he started a regular season game for the Redskins — the 38-21 win over the Cleveland Browns in 2012, the one game an injured Griffin did not start that season — a game Washington needed to win in order to play for the NFC East division title against the Dallas Cowboys
After completing 26 of 37 passes for 329 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, a quarterback rating of 104.4, with three carries for 22 yards, Cousins, as is the case for the winning quarterback, met with reporters in a press conference and talked about opportunities — here and elsewhere.
“I view every opportunity I get as a chance to sell myself to these coaches here in D.C., to 31 other coaches, 31 other teams,” Cousins said. “That doesn’t just mean a regular season game. That’s a preseason game, that’s practice reps, but every opportunity I get I want to make the most of it and be fully prepared for those moments when they come.
“As opportunities present themselves down the road, I need to be ready and be able to show what I can do because I’m not going to have two or three years worth of games to show,” he said. “I’m going to have a game here, a game there, a preseason half here or there. I’m hoping that will be good enough to show what I can do.”
“It is frustrating. Like I said, players play. I told them in the locker room when they told me (I wouldn’t play) that night I would be upset, but once we step on the field, I was all for this team and all for Kirk. That’s the way you have to approach it. You don’t take those things to the field and try to become a cancer or a distraction to the team. You support the team.”
Cousins wound up getting more than a game here, a game there. Thanks to exiled former general manager Scot McCloughan, Cousins got the starting job over Griffin before the start of the 2015 season. Since then he has started 32 straight games, thrown for more than 9,000 yards and 54 touchdowns, while leading Washington to its best two-season record, 17-14-1, since the turn of the century.
Yet it had not been enough to sell himself to the dysfunctional decision-makers at Redskins Park to offer a market-value long-term contract — at least not at the time this column was written.
The question, though, for the Redskins should not be whether or not Cousins has sold himself enough to make more money than any quarterback in the NFL — a short-lived place once the next big quarterback contract comes along. The questions should be this:
What else is there to buy?
• Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.
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