The floor keeps getting higher for Kirk Cousins.
In March, when Brock Osweiler jumped from the Broncos to the Texans for a contract that averages $18 million per year, that was generally accepted to be a floor for a Kirk Cousins deal. Osweiler had just seven NFL starts under his belt and his play was just OK. Cousins was coming off of a very good, 16-start season. If Osweiler was worth $18 million per season then Cousins was worth at least that much.
Yesterday the floor shifted.
Andrew Luck signed an extension is worth about $25 million per year. Luck was the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, he has three Pro Bowls on his resume and his teams have been to the playoffs three times and have won three games. He clearly is a cut above Cousins, who has one season as a starter and the Redskins have an 0-1 mark in the playoffs with him at quarterback.
But that doesn’t mean that Luck’s big payday won’t affect Cousins. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Luck’s deal is a rip tide that will raise the salaries of all competent quarterbacks who are fortunate enough to become free agents.
So what is the minimum that Cousins should expect now? It’s hard to see his agent settling for a dime less than $20 million per year on average. That’s 80 percent of Luck’s take on his extension. Even that number may be low but it seems to work as an absolute rock-bottom minimum.
The per-season average money is only one factor in evaluating the value of a contract. Guaranteed money is perhaps even more important. Luck’s extension contains $84 million in guarantees. If we take the same 80 percent of Luck’s guarantees and apply them to Cousins then the Redskins’ QB should figure on something in the neighborhood of $65 million guaranteed.
The Redskins are surveying the landscape. Right now their stance is that they want to see Cousins produce something similar to his 2015 season again before they commit anything close to Luck-type money to him.
They might look at Luck’s deal, wonder how much it will cost them to lock up Cousins if they wait a year, and push to get a deal done by the July 15 deadline. If they are going to make a serious push, however, they had better be willing to start with an annual average value with a “2” in front of it and a pile of guaranteed money that starts with a “6”. It’s doubtful that Cousins’ camp will entertain anything less.
New Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has been working out with Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown this offseason.
The pair documented their receiving drills, ladder drills and even yoga on social media. But what you didn't see, according to ESPN's John Keim, is Pryor practicing with special glasses that Brown recommended.
Based on Brown’s advice, Pryor has also worn special sunglasses during offseason workouts, designed to prevent him from seeing an object – in this case the ball – until it is almost upon him. Sometimes he takes his gloves off, just to get a feel for the ball with his hands.
The glasses Keim describes sound more like blinders, or even tunnel vision, but the idea is to help Pryor get an instinctive feel for running routes.
Despite putting up 1,007 receiving yards with the Browns last year, Pryor has only played the position since 2015. His first four seasons in the NFL were spent trying to make a roster playing quarterback.
Now penciled into a starting receiver role for the Redskins, he knows he has a lot of catching up to do.
"The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn," Pryor said, "I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there."
MORE REDSKINS: Redskins Playbook: Some good news for Kirk Cousins
The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.
Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.
The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10.
After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.
Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too.
The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list.
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