After essentially being silenced during the offseason before the Redskins let him go, former team GM Scot McCloughan has re-entered the public spotlight. He held charity auction that made news last week and now he’s opening up about the biggest football story in our nation’s capital: Kirk Cousins’ contract negotiations.
McCloughan joined 106.7 The Fan and had this to say about Cousins, via ESPN.com:
“His ceiling is where it’s at right now,” McCloughan told hosts Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. “He’s a good player who has proven he can win a division and that’s hard to find — and a chance for two years in a row to go to the playoffs. That’s what you’re looking for.”
OK, so he’s “what you’re looking for” in a QB. Pay the man then. Right?
Well, not exactly. McCloughan continued…
“Everyone says it’s the most important position on the field,” McCloughan said. “I understand he touches the ball every snap, but it’s the guys around him. If you’re paying the quarterback, then you’re losing an offensive lineman, you’re going to lose the defensive lineman, you’re going to lose the corner. With the cap, you can’t afford it.”
And that really is the key here. Cousins has developed into a decent quarterback — some may even say a good one — but he’s certainly not a transcendent talent who’s going to make those around him better. We say you can’t win without a good quarterback (which is the rationale we use when arguing that even a league-average quarterback — say, Andy Dalton — deserves a big-money deal) but you can’t win paying a merely good quarterback elite money, either.
By all accounts, Cousins is looking for elite money. But what happens to Cousins when he gets that big, long-term deal and suddenly his offensive line isn’t so good and his receiving corps isn’t getting open as often as it has these last two seasons? All of a sudden, he doesn’t look like a good quarterback anymore and the Redskins are locked into a Joe Flacco situation.
There’s another side to that argument, though. By waiting to give Cousins a new deal, Washington has only seen his price go up. The salary cap keeps rising, which leads to Cousins’ market value rising along with it. Because of salary cap inflation, an exorbitant deal in 2015 doesn’t look so bad in 2017.
So do you pay Cousins or not? We won’t really know the answer to that question until we see him playing with a less-than-elite supporting cast, which he has enjoyed during his two big seasons. That’s not going to happen before Washington has to make a decision on his future with the team, so it’s essentially a guessing game.