When the Washington Redskins selected quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round of the 2012 National Football League Draft, he was an afterthought. The reason why Cousins became an afterthought was because in the first round of that same draft, the Redskins made a splash when they traded up to the second overall selection to pick quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin was expected to be the Redskins franchise player and he quickly lived up to it by being the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of Year, while also helping Washington win the NFC East.
But things would quickly change in Washington as a knee injury took away from Griffin’s effectiveness, while he never completely figured out what it took to be a quarterback in the National Football League. Cousins took advantage of Griffin not being able to be “the guy” and over the last three years he has had one of the better runs of any quarterback in the franchise’s history.
In 2015, the Redskins won the NFC East, while Cousins led the National Football League in completion percentage (69.8%). That season Cousins also became just the third quarterback in Redskins franchise history to pass for more than 4,000 yards. And in 2016, Cousins shattered the franchise’s single-season passing mark when he threw for 4,917 yards. But whereas Cousins has shown that he can be the guy and lead Washington to the postseason, the team’s front office has not done right by him.
Each of the last two off-seasons have seen the Redskins attach the franchise tag to Cousins, while the team’s two top wide receivers from last season in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon were allowed to leave in free agency. There were rumors that Cousins wanted to be traded to the San Francisco 49ers in order to be reunited with his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan who had just been named as the Niners head coach. But that didn’t come to fruition as the Redskins would not budge in allowing Cousins to leave town. Cousins once again signed his franchise tender and although that Washington more than likely won’t make the playoffs this season, he is still putting up good numbers.
This season Cousins has completed 66.6% of his passes, while passing for 3,289 yards and throwing 21 touchdowns in spite of the fact that he’s playing behind a patchwork offensive line. And as there is not a glut of quality quarterbacks around the National Football League, Cousins could be set to strike it big in the off-season.
The Redskins still have the option to slap the franchise tag on Cousins once more. But at this point if Washington is unable to secure a long-term deal with Cousins, it is time to let him go as they’ve blown multiple chances to sign him to a long-term deal.
The upcoming National Football League Draft is expected to have some good prospects at quarterback which includes UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen, but every team that needs a new signal caller will not be able to draft one, and an experienced one such as Cousins could strike it big.
There are several teams in need of a starting quarterback, but the two that make the most sense for Cousins should he leave Washington would be the New York Jets and Denver Broncos.
The Jets are 5-7 this season and they have overachieved as they’re hanging around in the playoff picture in the AFC, while they’ve also managed to be extremely competitive. For years the Jets have had issues at the quarterback position. Currently the Jets have two young quarterbacks on their roster in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenburg, but the fact that a 38-year old journeyman in Josh McCown has started all 12 games this season for New York lets you know that neither of the youngsters is the future for this franchise.
Since Mike Maccagnan has been the general manager of the Jets, this team has been held together will spit and glue and they need to solidify the situation at quarterback if they intend on being a contender.
After beginning this season with a record of 3-1, the Broncos find themselves on an eight-game losing streak as they are heading to one of their worst seasons in franchise history. Since the Broncos won the Super Bowl to culminate the 2015 National Football League season, they have had serious issues at the quarterback position.
This season the Broncos have used three different starting quarterbacks in Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch. Combined this trio has only been able to complete 57.5% of their passes which is 31st in the National Football League. This is a stark contrast from the Broncos defense which is fifth in the NFL in yards allowed, but defense alone cannot win games.
Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway knows what it takes to put a championship team together, but he has not succeeded in being able to draft and develop a quarterback. And after the Broncos have endured this disappointing season, I expect Elway to leave no stone unturned in regards to once again making the Broncos a contender.
It was nearly a year ago that I mentioned that the ‘Skins were playing with fire by not locking up Cousins to a long-term deal. It’s nearly a year later and nothing has changed in Washington. It’s time for the Redskins brain trust of owner Dan Snyder, president Bruce Allen, and head coach Jay Gruden to read the team’s history books in order to evaluate the franchise’s situation at quarterback over the last 25 years. It is not pretty and playing Russian roulette with Cousins could once again set the Redskins back at the most important position on the field.