By Ryan Decker
It’s the worst kept secret in the NFL.
This means that Cousins will play the upcoming season under the one-year franchise tag, costing Washington $23.9 Million, and making him a free agent next year if the team decides to not tag him for an unprecedented third year in a row.
It’s a big risk for both sides that can make each of the two parties either look like fools or geniuses.
Below are the scenarios and outcomes for Cousins and the Redskins.
The best-case scenario is simple.
Cousins plays well. Washington wins enough games to get in the playoffs, heck, maybe it even sticks around for more than one postseason game for the first time since 2005.
After the season Cousins and his agent, owner Dan Snyder and president Bruce Allen all gather in a room, sing Kumbaya with a hearty “You like that?!” at the end, and make Cousins one of the highest paid players in league history.
Washington gets the franchise quarterback it’s been searching for, Cousins doesn’t have to uproot, and can start working towards a championship.
Lose-Win: Cousins falls short
Washington needs a quarterback. Cousins can be that quarterback for the long haul if the price is right.
The former fourth-round pick is obviously the biggest factor in determining what happens to that price – whether it rises or falls.
Don’t forget that both of the Redskins biggest names on the outside (DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon) both signed with other teams during the offseason. Those are two big weapons that Cousins no longer has at his disposal.
With not a ton of experience in the current group of pass catchers, Cousins has a down year.
His record, completion percentage, and touchdown-to-interception ratio all fall for the second consecutive year.
Even with QBs being at a premium in the NFL, the well dries up in the Cousins market, and he’s forced to take less money than desired to stay in Washington.
Washington gets a quarterback that’s proven and has potential, but Cousins misses out on the big pay day.
Win-Lose: Cousins walks
The other side of the scenario I just walked you through is this…
Cousins plays out of his mind, ranks in the top three in numerous statistical categories, leads Washington deep into the playoffs, and when the season is done prepares for the bidding war to begin.
San Francisco, now led by former Redskins Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, makes Cousins a huge offer.
The Jets, always in need of a competent passer, throws out stacks of cash.
Other teams needing a QB contact Cousins.
In the end, Washington gets left in the dust and is forced to start Colt McCoy or Nate Sudfeld under center in 2018.
Lose-Lose: Reoccurring theme in DC
Washington’s been searching for a true franchise quarterback for some time.
Many have tried but failed to fit the role. Is Kirk Cousins next?
We see the phenomenon in sports all the time: contract years can either bring the best or the worst out in players.
What if the worst comes out of Cousins?
He channels his inner Matt Barkley and stinks up the place – leads the NFL in all the categories you don’t want to be the best of the worst in.
Washington feels they don’t have their quarterback of the future after all and decide not to re-sign him, likely taking another stab in the dark at the NFL Draft.
Cousins no longer looks like the hot commodity he once did and he doesn’t get anything close to the contract he desired.
Washington has the seventh-toughest schedule this year, based on opponents’ winning percentage in 2016.
Cousins and the Redskins begin the season against the Eagles in Landover, MD, and face the Rams, Raiders, and Chiefs in the first month of the campaign.