If this article from ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Redskins consider tagging Kirk Cousins to trade him) is true, it only proves (as if we needed more proof) that the Redskins front office does not make good business decisions.
Let’s think about this.
If this article is true, then the Redskins, on the heels of trading for Kansas City’s QB Alex Smith, are considering using the NFL’s “Franchise Tag” on Kirk Cousins.
The team will not use the “Transition Tag” on Cousins, which would cost about $28 million. This is because that tag would allow another team to front-load a contract, use bonuses, cap, etc to out-bid the Redskins, and get Cousins without having to compensate them.
The Redskins instead would use the “Franchise Tag” on Cousins, which would cost them $34.5 million, and mean that the team NEEDS to trade him to recoup anything of value.
Keep in mind, if they do nothing and let Kirk go to another team in free agency, the Redskins get a 3rd round compensatory pick next year.
Click here for a good explanation of the difference between a “franchise tag” vs a “transition tag” as it related to Chicago.
Once they decide to put the Franchise Tag on Cousins, they will have 2 QBs on their roster – one for $23 million and another for $34.5 million (3 if you consider Colt a legitimate QB).
Teams are going to rush into a bidding war for Kirk Cousins?
They know the Redskins have an absurd situation, and cannot keep Cousins. To make matters worse, Cousins does not need to sign the contract right away. He can wait several weeks, sign, and bank $34.5 million – GUARANTEED. All the while, the Redskins don’t have that $34.5 million in cap space to sign free agents AND they cannot move Cousins until he signs, which effectively grinds their business operations to a halt.
Is that smart business?
Now, we know the Redskins front office has not handled the Kirk Cousins contract situation well. The reports are that a few years ago they could have signed Cousins for roughly $19, $21, and possibly $23 million, respectively, over the last few years, but refused. They then proceeded to OVERPAY him by tagging him. And now they are considering using this tag, which would bring the total over-payment to… what? $15 million+ over 3 years!
I ask again… Is that smart business?
And let’s not forget, to FIX the problem the Redskins created for themselves, they had to GIVE UP a rising slot corner and important part of their defense plus draft picks this year. A deal that most people say the Redskins OVERPAID to make happen.
So, do they REALLY think they are going to succeed by taking this risk?
When time and again you have a history of overpaying and under-performing, do you REALLY want to risk going into the season with 2 QBs at over $50 million on your payroll?
Let’s assume, for a moment, that Arizona, Buffalo, Denver, and the NY Jets are the only REAL suitors for Cousins.
I’ve seen some people write that Kirk is going to command $30+ million and get Matt Stafford money or more as a free agent. Now, that MAY happen if Kirk were a free agent. I doubt it. I think the tagging, which Kirk has maximized brilliantly for big-time cash, has inflated his value somewhat. But it could happen. Is it a chance you want to take? What if Kirk’s REAL market ceiling is $26 million? Or $28 million. The aforementioned teams have good draft picks. Some have decent QBs. And there other QBs are on the market (Let’s not forget that Minnesota has 2 free agent QBs that could become available).
What happens if all these other teams decide to pass and say that $34.5 million is too high of a price to pay?
The Redskins go into the season with 2 QBs. They would have their highest paid and starting QB a free agent at the end of the year, and the guy they just signed to a multi-year contract on the bench. Or… Do you bench the guy you signed for $34.5 million for one year, and start the guy you signed to the lower, multi-year contract?
I ask yet again… Is that smart business?
Of the other teams mentioned above as potential Kirk Cousins suitors, only the Jets have a ton of cap room ($74 million). Buffalo ($31 million), Denver ($28 million), and Arizona ($27 million) have space and can work some magic. But none of those teams are going to give up a first rounder for Kirk Cousins (Seriously, would they?).
NY and Denver are projected to draft QBs when the NFL Draft takes place in April, which means they have options. They could be fine with not over-paying for Cousins.
Buffalo and Arizona have QBs on their roster. Do they need an upgrade? Yes. At $34.5 million… Eh… Are they getting Tom Brady? Nope… Then probably not…
So, what does all of this mean?
Well, if we can think through all of this in a few minutes – WHY would this EVER be considered a legitimate / viable business option for the Redskins?
When you consider the risk vs reward – where is the reward? To get back a 3rd rounder that you LOST because you overpaid to make-up for the mistakes you made each of the last three years?
Are you REALLY willing to risk going into the season with 2 QBs, hamstring your entire off-season with no cap space to improve your roster – for the possibility of getting a 3rd round pick this year instead of one next year?
In my view, the Redskins need to learn that until they improve their front office, they are not going to out-smart other teams. They are liable to only out-smart themselves. They need to stop thinking they are great at negotiations and making deals, because they are not.
Let Kirk go in free agency, Washington. Get your 3rd round compensatory pick next year – and use your cap space to improve your team.