Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins have reportedly broken off contract negotiations, as both sides are far apart on what they consider a fair and equitable deal. Washington has said it wants to sign Cousins to a long-term deal, but only if the price is right.
So, what is the 27-year-old quarterback worth?
“Well, you’re worth whatever the market will bear,” former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Theismann said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Where do you go if you don’t sign Kirk Cousins? Is there somebody else out there that you’re going to pay $80-100 million to? Because that’s the going market for starting quarterbacks. That’s the low end of the scale, to be honest with you.”
Cousins completed 69.8 percent of his passes for 4,166 yards, 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season, leading Washington to the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
“Kirk stumbled into a situation a little bit similar to what we saw with Joe Flacco,” Theismann said. “Joe Flacco was a free agent when he won (the Super Bowl) in Baltimore. (He) got $120 million or whatever. Tony Romo in Dallas, where were they going to go without Tony? They found out how valuable he really was this past year. You look around the league. Colin Kaepernick – they trade away Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick takes them to a Super bowl and all of a sudden you’re (worth at least) $100 million.
“The Redskins have been desperate for someone to take over the quarterback reins for years,” Theismann continued. “Now, Robert Griffin III had it after his rookie season, but injuries have sort of sidelined his career. So Kirk Cousins plays an entire year, has a record-setting performance in completion percentage, had an unbelievable last 10 games that he played, and now it’s a question of putting a team together around him. With the cap going up to about $150 million, that should help everybody along the way.
“But where do the Redskins go? Colt McCoy is a free agent, Robert Griffin III is probably a free agent – they’re not going to pick up his $16 million option – and now you have Kirk Cousins. So you’re sort of in a box because everybody’s a free agent. You don’t really have a quarterback to speak of right now.”
Washington could franchise Cousins, but Theismann wouldn’t advise it. First of all, the tag will be roughly $20 million, and second of all, it wouldn’t give the Redskins any long-term stability.
“You’re going to tag him and take the chance on him possibly getting hurt and where are you?” Theismann asked. “Where are you as a football team? You can’t franchise him again. So now all of a sudden, there’s still going to be quite a few teams out that are going to be looking for a quarterback – a fifth-year guy who has another year of experience. I think it costs you more in a year than what it would if you signed a deal somewhere between $80-100 million.”
In the end, Theismann wants Washington to sign Cousins to a long-term deal.
“It would take away a lot of questions,” Theismann said. “It would take a lot of doubt away. It would, I think, create some stability at a position that has been so unstable for so many years in Washington. Kirk is the guy that has unified a lot of people, a lot of forces. The front office, the coaching staff, the players, the fans – everybody is behind Kirk. They want him to be the guy. He’s earned it. They want him to be the guy. If he decides it’s not enough money, that’s one thing, but if you franchise him and the negotiators continue to not move forward, it leaves an uncomfortable question for every press conference as the year goes on.”
RG3, meanwhile, hopes to start somewhere next season despite playing just nine games over the last two years – and none in 2015. At this point, it seems unlikely that Griffin, 26, will be able to recapture the magic of his rookie season, but he could be a viable starter for several franchises.
“Robert continued to work on his game after practice,” Theismann said. “I give him a lot of credit. He handled this very difficult year with a lot of class. It’s time for him to go someplace to get a fresh start, to get a new start. But he still has to continue to work on being a good pocket passer. That’s the only way you have longevity in this game, is to be able to operate efficiently out of a pocket – something he didn’t do in college, something that injury has not allowed him to continue to grow in. So it will be an offseason where he’s going to have to keep on getting better and better, and I think he can do it. I really believe he can do it. He throws the ball well enough. It’s just a question of discipline and repetition – something he hasn’t been able to do. But there has to be a change of address for him. You can’t pay him $16 million to sit on the bench, and there’s places that need him.”