The NFL free agency quarterback market is kind of a mess right now, with few decent options available. Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, and Tyrod Taylor could join a market that includes Colin Kaepernick and Mike Glennon, but the proverbial big fish is unlikely to be leaving this year.
Kirk Cousins is not exactly the ideal big fish, but for this market, if he were an unrestricted free agent without the franchise tag, he would be getting the biggest contract. However, Washington placed the exclusive franchise tag that guarantees him $24 million, but does not let him negotiate anywhere else.
We have not heard any new trade rumors recently, but MMQB columnist Albert Breer thinks Washington is prepared for a future without Cousins. According to Breer, Washington is comfortable enough with Colt McCoy as a short-term bridge that they can eventually move forward without Cousins.
Is the 30-year-old McCoy a 10-year answer for Washington at the position? No. But he can be what Cousins can’t be at this point, and that’s a bridge quarterback, which is why the question isn’t Cousins versus McCoy in a vacuum. It’s the brass buying Cousins and hitching its job security to his successes and failures, versus renting McCoy while looking for a younger upgrade at the position.
Breer says Washington thinks they can win in the short term with McCoy, and so it makes sense to clear up the Cousins situation this offseason. The problem remains that teams know Cousins is all but certain to hit unrestricted free agency next year, so why give up significant draft picks now? Yes, it could help get him ahead of other teams, but the San Francisco 49ers in particular know they likely have a good chance at a Cousins-Shanahan reunion next year, if they are so inclined.
As for the idea that McCoy can be a bridge quarterback? He has not been a regular starter since 2011, although he did have a solid stretch of four starts and one relief appearance in 2014. However, it is also worth noting Washington is likely to lose both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, their two leading receivers. Kirk Cousins had a great year, but part of that was due to having excellent weapons around him. McCoy could probably be decent with some solid options at the skill positions, but if they do not replenish those areas, things could go south in a hurry.