Earlier this week, Washington and quarterback Kirk Cousins were unable to come to terms on a contract extension. The decision will be deferred until next spring, but in the meantime, team president Bruce Allen decided to provide an offering to the fans in defense of the team’s ineptitude.
Allen released a statement detailing the team’s offer to Cousins. He pointed to the team offering him $53 million fully guaranteed, and an additional $20 million guaranteed for injury. He then said the team did not receive an offer from Cousins’ agent.
The biggest issue with the numbers presented is the fact that Cousins was already guaranteed $24 million this year under the franchise tag, and next year would be guaranteed either $28 million under the transition tag or $34 million under the franchise tag. The Washington guaranteed money effectively added up to the franchise tag this year and the transition tag next year. There was nothing guaranteed beyond that, and Mike Jones reported that Washington’s base salaries after these two years would be in the lowers 20s.
Some Washington fans get that this is BS. Our friends at Hogs Haven wrote an article titled “Bruce Allen blames Kirk Cousins for knowing his own value.” Cousins acknowledged his agent did not send the team an offer, but he said he wants to gather information following the turmoil the team has seen this year. He also said that if he was really only about the money, his agent could have made a huge counter-offer. He has said his first choice is to remain in Washington, but what else is he going to say right now? I wouldn’t expect him to say he wants out, and I certainly wouldn’t expect him to say, oh yea, it’s all about getting every penny I can.
And yet, it’s still not surprising that some Washington fans have turned on Cousins pretty quickly. As is often the case when it comes to contract negotiations, if a player wants more than is being offered by the team, some fans are quick to come to the team’s defense and attack the player. It happens virtually any time a player holds out while under contract, and it is happening here, even with Cousins making it clear he will not be holding out from training camp.
Plenty of fans are smart enough to realize the team is playing them with that press release. But as with holdouts, there are plenty of fans who seem to think greed only rest with the players. NFL owners already have a huge advantage over players when you combine the hard salary cap with the franchise tag. It’s certainly the right of owners to benefit from those tools. They have done a good job fending off the NFLPA. However, I find it ridiculous when players are criticized for trying to maximize their own wealth, as owners are busy doing the same thing.
Kirk Cousins is a solid quarterback who could do some big things if he ends up with Kyle Shanahan next year. He’s not an “elite” quarterback along the lines of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and plenty others, but he is a plenty capable quarterback. He might not “deserve” to be the highest paid quarterback in the NFL, but in a league with this kind of financial structure, it’s about who hits free agent most recent, and not simply who is “the best.” Cousins has handled the situation about as well as one could. An injury could derail this, and an atrocious 2017 season would not help his case, but for the benefit of the rest of the players, I hope he cashes in in a big way.