Washington NFL quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks to pass during an NFL football game in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The Washington NFL franchise wasn’t exactly expecting a franchise record-setting season when it tagged Kirk Cousins as the starting quarterback prior to the 2015-2016 campaign, but the results are surely impressive. Cousins led the league in completion percentage and shredded Washington’s history books with 4,166 passing yards and 29 touchdowns and his final eight games put him in the upper echelon of signal callers last season. But that was last season, and the Redskins are set to pay handsomely for Cousins’ breakout campaign as it was announced earlier this week that Washington will use the franchise tag on Cousins to keep the position stable in 2016-2017. Cousins isexpected to make between $18 million to $20 million for next season alone depending on if Washington uses their franchise or transition tag on Cousins. Signing Cousins long term was the obvious goal but the team was skeptical about a long-term deal with only one season of work to go on. Was that the right move for Washington? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, of the AFRO Sports Desk, debate the question.
Riley: With their hands tied, Washington really had no other move to make besides slapping the tag on Cousins. His 2015-2016 campaign was brilliant but can he do it again? That was the major question coming into the talks and it was obvious Washington wanted to see a repeat of last year before they invested into the former Michigan State signal caller. Washington was already burned once by Robert Griffin III so they took a cautious yet aggressive approach in retaining Cousins. Cousins will be among the highest-paid signal callers in the league next season. But, in the event that he doesn’t relive the magic from this past season, Washington isn’t on the hook long term. And for a team who needed to get out from the RGIII experiment, it was the right move.
Green: Baltimore’s Joe Flacco was granted a huge payday after he secured a Super Bowl win and that’s how it should be when it comes to investing big money into quarterbacks. Locking Cousins into a long-term contract should’ve been Washington’s primary focus this summer as opposed to settling for a whopping one-year tag. He didn’t deserve Flacco money because he didn’t win a Super Bowl, but he did deserve a deal worth 3 or 4 million less per year. Also, saying that Washington still needs to see more from Cousins and that’s why they attached the tag isn’t fully accurate. NFL contracts aren’t guaranteed, so it isn’t like Washington would be stuck into a long-term deal if Cousins doesn’t perform to contract standards. What happens if Cousins blows up again for a second straight season and he becomes a free agent all over again? Washington was lucky this offseason because the NFL wasn’t sure what the fourth-year quarterback was capable of but if he performs well again then Washington might not have a chance to re-sign him.
Riley: Washington is making the best use out of their available options and the franchise tag makes the most sense. Cousins will develop his own price tag as next season plays out, and the Redskins will still have the inside track on retaining his services because he’s developed and progressed through their system and quarterbacks routinely don’t skip teams in the middle of their prime. Both the city and the franchise have Cousins on their priority list and that’s something that goes a long way when it comes to re-signing.
Green: I’m sorry, I’m just not a fan of paying a quarterback who only has one season of performance under his belt a whopping $20 million for one season’s worth of work. It just doesn’t sit well with me, especially when that team could probably use some extra money to help shore up a laundry list of holes on the roster. Based upon other team needs and the fact that Washington’s brass should’ve been able to secure a long-term deal with a quarterback that’s been on their roster for the last four years, Washington dropped the ball once again in a decision that could cost them dearly next year.