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Cousins' 2016 price tag likely in $13-$17 million range

Cousins' 2016 price tag likely in $13-$17 million range

Although it probably won’t happen until sometime this spring, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is going to get paid.

Yes, he is either a work in progress or a flawed player, depending on what point of view you take. Or perhaps it’s a bit of both. Regardless, in the NFL even unfinished and/or imperfect quarterbacks can make a lot of money.

Cousins will be a free agent at the end of the season and assuming he starts the remaining three games this year he could be a rarity. Quarterbacks who started 16 games the previous season rarely hit the free agent market.

Because of that and the fact that Cousins has just one full season as a starter under his belt his value is hard to figure out, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry. He wrote a long, detailed look at what Cousins’ next contract might look like. And, because of the variables involved, he finds it hard to come up with anything definitive.

One possibility is for Cousins to get a traditional free agent contract that covers four or five years. Corry says that Cousins’ passing numbers are comparable to those of Detroit’s Matthew Stafford and Alex Smith of the Chiefs. They are in the middle of contracts that average $17.6 million and $17 million per year, respectively.

The difference is that Stafford and Smith both had much longer track records as starters before signing their contracts. The Redskins may not be willing to commit that much to Cousins based on one season as the starter.

That is where a contract like the one Nick Foles signed with the Rams earlier this year could come into play. The deal was for two years and $24.5 million with $13.7 million fully guaranteed. There are incentives for both personal goals (like Pro Bowl appearances) and team success (such as playoff wins) that can add up to $4.5 million per year to the deal.

A deal like that would allow the Redskins to continue to evaluate Cousins while giving the player an opportunity to further establish himself and increase his earning power in a future contract he would sign in a couple of years before the age of 30. Cousins’ agent Mike McCartney might want a higher floor and higher ceiling

One option that Corry puts out there is the franchise tag for 2016. If Cousins has a strong finish to the season the Redskins might think of tagging him if they can’t come to a deal by the tag deadline in late February. That would give Cousins a $19.7 million salary for 2016. The two teams would have until mid-July to work out a longer-term contract or Cousins would play out the year with the tag and that guaranteed salary.

The Redskins will have the cap room to do it but they would rather not. That gives them incentive to make a deal sooner rather than later, well before the free agent market opens up in March. From Cousins' perspective, it would be a nice payday for one year but there would be no security in place.

Cousins could be tempted to explore the market but quarterback movement in the free agent market is rare in part because QBs like to stay in the system that made them successful. That doesn’t mean Cousins won’t go elsewhere and he is unlikely to give any sort of a hometown discount to the Redskins. But if McCartney thinks that a deal on the table is a good one, there is a good chance that Cousins will sign it.

There are still a lot of variables in play and there are still three important regular season games and possibly one or more playoff games to go in January. But the best guess right now is that Cousins stays in Washington and gets a three-year deal with the third year voidable with a base average of $13-$14 million per year with another $3-$4 million in incentives.

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Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

While it hasn’t been the best offseason for the Redskins organization in many respects it has been a good one for coach Jay Gruden. In the midst of turmoil over the status of general manager Scot McCloughan, Gruden got a two-year contract extension.

Although the final agreement on the deal came on March 4 in a steakhouse in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, team president Bruce Allen said that talk of extending Gruden started much earlier.

“It was after the season, Dan [Snyder], Jay and I got together and we talked about the game plan because we’d made some changes on the coaching staff as well following the season,” Allen told CSN’s JP Finlay at the owners’ meetings in Arizona.

Gruden became the team’s head coach in 2014. His original five-year contract was set to expire after the 2018 season but now he is in the fold through 2020.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Gruden’s record in Washington is 21-26-1, not the kind of record that normally has an organization rushing to extend a head coach. But after a 4-12 inaugural season, Gruden has led the Redskins to records of 9-7 and 8-7-1 the last two years. While by many standards that is a modest achievement, it marked the first back-to-back winning seasons in Washington since 1996-1997. The hope is that Gruden will keep them moving in the right direction.

The extension is likely to be popular in the locker room as players have come to like Gruden’s style.  

“His directness, his sarcasm and at the same time he gets his coaching point in but the guys do like his sense of humor as well,” said Allen. 

It’s not known if Gruden’s extension gives him more authority over personnel. His original deal gave him very little, with first Allen and then McCloughan having the final say in personnel selection and control over who makes the 53-man roster. Some NFL head coaches have final say in free agency acquisition and in the draft while many have control over who makes the 53.

MORE REDSKINS: 3 takeaways from talking to Allen

Gruden does have some informal influence when it comes to the draft.

“He’s got a big role,” said Allen. “First of all, he coordinates all the coaches’ reports and when we set the draft board, Jay will be up there. He watches every player who will be on the draft board and he will have an opinion.”

There is a power vacuum at Redskins Park with McCloughan gone. A new general manager won’t get hired until after the draft and the authority of that GM will have will be a matter of negotiation. It would not be surprising to see Gruden ending up with roster control.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 28, 30 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 20
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 45
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 57
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 109
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 157

Tuesday three and out

1. Maybe Bruce Allen and the Redskins have a master plan for saving the whole Kirk Cousins situation but right now it just looks like they’re stuck without a solution to paying $24 million to a quarterback who likely will be gone in a year. That’s money that could either be rolled over into future seasons if Cousins gets traded or used as a down payment on a long-term Cousins deal. Maybe there’s a master plan there somewhere but right now it looks an awful lot like the organization is just stumbling around in the dark, stubbing its toe while trying to find the light switch.

2. WR Brian Quick will cost the Redskins less against the salary cap than they are paying him. That’s because his contract takes advantage of the minimum salary benefit. He gets the sixth-year minimum salary of $775,000 plus an $85,000 signing bonus, a total of $860,000. Because of the minimum salary and low signing bonus the CBA rules allow the team to essentially discount the cap hit for the contract down to $695,000. The rule is designed so that younger players are necessarily cheaper, at least when it comes to the salary cap.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

3. Allen hinted that the Redskins won’t necessarily hire a general manager after the draft. While talking to colleague JP Finlay he said, “We’ll talk about what we need after the draft from a staffing standpoint.” Not “we’ll search high and low for the best GM in the business” but that needs will be examined. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

And out—Allen didn’t have much to say when JP asked about the stadium project that was a hot topic a year or so ago, only confirming that talks are ongoing. The fact that he had so little to say, not even some platitudes about the desire to build a great environment for the fans. Reading between the lines, this makes me think that a deal is getting close and the less that is said about it at this point the better. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe will be term limited out of office next January and the feeling is that he will want to leave a Redskins stadium deal as his legacy.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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