Who Will Be The Niners Starting QB in 2017?  Surprise!

I believe that the Niners 2017 starting QB could very well be (wait for it) ... Kirk Cousins (or possibly even Jimmy Garoppolo). Calm down ... I'll explain why I think so.

I'll admit that I am writing this post out of frustration. Throughout the whole Kirk Cousins melodrama over the last ten days there has been much speculation as to what the Niners might have to give up to Washington as compensation in a trade for Cousins. As I have commented on a number of occasions, most of the suggested compensation packages are just crazy. Nonetheless, people continue to fall for the ruse. Once and for all I'd like to clarify this issue so that people can appreciate the realities.

The latest mock draft comes from Will Brinson at CBS and was published this morning. In it Brinson proposes a trade as follows:

  • San Francisco gets: The rights to QB Kirk Cousins + 2017 Pick #17
  • Washington gets: 2017 Pick #2 + a 2018 conditional pick:

If Cousins starts 16 games -- a 3rd-round pick

If the Niners reach the playoffs -- a 1st-round pick

Else, a 4th-round pick


Brinson's rationale is that surely "Cousins is worth the difference in value between Pick #2 and Pick #17". And, while San Francisco takes all of the risk in the trade, somehow Washington should benefit from how well Cousins performs for the Niners next season.

The proposed terms of this trade, and most similar trades that have been suggested recently, simply don't make any sense. They clearly demonstrate why these guys are writers and not businessmen. Let me explain.

Some Definitions

Worth: Brinson mentions Cousins' "worth". Any player's "worth" is subjective and could vary considerably from one team to another, depending upon their circumstances. Like beauty, "worth" is in the eye of the beholder.

Market Value: "Market value" is the highest price that a seller can obtain from a qualified buyer in a sale (or trade) of an asset.

Market: A "market" requires competition ... the presence of at least two qualified buyers bidding to acquire the asset in question. The presence of only one buyer does NOT constitute a "market".


Negotiations 101

So how in the hell does that relate to anything that we're talking about here? Not only does it relate but it constitutes the whole point.

First, a player's "worth" is completely irrelevant when it comes to negotiating a trade ... even if it did the two sides would never agree anyway. What is pertinent is "market value". Market value is what establishes the compensation in a trade. Let me explain using a simple example. You bought a house for $250,000 and then invested an additional $50,000 into improvements. To you the house is "worth" at least $300,000. You decide to sell so you put the house on the market. Multiple buyers make offers, the highest of which is $350,000. Thus, you house's "market value" is $350,000. (Note that "asking price" is irrelevant.) But suppose that you only get one offer and it's for $225,000; screw that, you'll wait (And, to make my example comparable, you are going to lose the house if you don't get it sold within a year.); but another offer never comes in. What is "market value" now? It is $225,000 OR whatever the one qualified buyer offers ... and it has absolutely nothing to do with what you or the buyer thinks that the house is "worth". (If you doubt this, ask anyone who tried to sell a house between 2008-2011.)

Now the potential trade for Kirk Cousins. What is he "worth"? It doesn't matter ... Washington would no doubt like to value him at four 1st-round draft picks. Are they going to get that? Of course not. So what should they get? Washington should get whatever the "market value" is for the trade. And what is that? Simple ... "the highest price that a seller can obtain from a qualified buyer in a sale or trade". Uh ... maybe it's not so simple. In this case there is only ONE qualified buyer and, thus, a "market" doesn't exist. The "market value" is whatever price that the one qualified buyer is willing to offer.

What do you mean only one qualified buyer? There are a lot of teams that need a QB, so lots of them would be willing to trade for Cousins. Oh really? I don't think so. Why not? Simple ... Kirk Cousins has indicated that he will only sign a long-term contract with either Washington or San Francisco. (Mind you, we don't know for sure than Cousins' indicated LTC limitations are a fact, but we have to assume so for now.) NO team will offer Washington anything meaningful (which excludes a nuisance offer of a throw-away 7th-round pick or something) in trade for Cousins unless he will agree to sign an acceptable long-term contract with them. No LTC, no meaningful offer. No multiple trade offers, no market.

So what is "market value" in this case then? It is whatever San Francisco offers as compensation ... presumably as long as it is more than the value of a 2019 3rd-round compensation draft pick, which is Washington's alternative return for Cousins when he leaves in free agency. So not necessarily a 1st-round pick? Nope. It doesn't matter what Washington would like to get or thinks that it should get. The only thing that matters is whether they are willing to accept the one offer or not. (You can agree to sell for $225,000 or not ... your choice.)

So what does it really take to get a deal done? I'll simply make a guess here and let you decide what Washington might do. Their choices are:

  • Retain Cousins for one more year, pay him another $25 million, hope to convince him to sign a LTC, delay their inevitable rebuild around a new QB for a year, not have $25 million to extend some players or sign some free agents to improve the roster, watch Cousins walk out the door after the 2017 season, and obtain a 3rd-round compensation pick in the 2019 draft (which has the current value of a 5th-round pick).
  • Trade Cousins to San Francisco for anything that is better than the compensation pick, use the $25 million to sign a free agent QB (Romo?) and/or other players to improve the roster, use whatever trade compensation that is forthcoming from San Francisco to select an additional prospect in the 2017 draft, and try never to get themselves into this situation again.
Which choice makes the most sense to you?

If I'm John Lynch, what do I offer Washington for the rights to Cousins? Pick #34 in the 2017 NFL draft. And if they don't accept it they are even crazier than I already thought they were. They could only turn down this offer IF they honestly believe that they can sign Cousins (and have the cap capacity to do so) to a LTC ... and they have been wholly unsuccessful in getting that done for the last 16 months. And, I dare say that the relationship between the two parties is just as bad today as it was a year ago. What's different now? Uh ... well, for one thing, Kyle Shanahan is now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

What if Washington decides to hold onto Cousins for this year? We sign Brian Hoyer (or whoever else you'd prefer) to a two-year bridge contract, use Pick #34 on another starter, and wait until free agency in 2018 ... when we can sign Cousins without the need to provide any compensation at all.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.