Let's start with the facts: Kirk Cousins could become a free agent in about a month, unless the Redskins can agree to a long-term deal with their quarterback or they place the franchise tag on the passer.
Those are far and away the two most likely scenarios - long-term deal or franchise tag - but another option emerged. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that San Francisco might make a strong trade offer for Cousins, perhaps even including the No. 2 overall pick. The crux of the Schefter report centered on the 49ers hiring Kyle Shanahan as coach, which is basically a done deal. Remember Shanahan was with the Redskins when Cousins was drafted, and the two are said to have a strong relationship.
From Schefter's report:
San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan. Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick.
Now, things have grown more interesting with the Niners hire of John Lynch as general manager. Lynch, a former player with the Bucs and Broncos, has no previous front office experience, but during his broadcasting work with Fox, repeatedly spoke highly of Cousins.
"You know, there’s a lot of talk in Washington, should this be our guy moving forward, is he really [worth] a $20 million contract? You’ve got to take your head off the figure, off the number. I think that scares people. That’s the going rate, folks. You may not like it, but it’s the going rate for good quarterbacks. This guy is a really good quarterback. He’s earned the right, in my mind, to be the Redskins quarterback moving forward," Lynch said during the Redskins 27-22 win over the Eagles in December (via DC Sports Bog).
It's also interesting that Lynch was, in a way, Shanahan's hand-picked GM. Peter King of MMQB.com told the story of Lynch's hire, and said that it unfolded after the former Pro Bowl safety reached out to the currect Falcons offensive coordinator and said he'd be interested in the front office gig.
The more interesting nugget from King's story, that was mentioned twice, was that both Cousins and Lynch know without a quarterback their rebuilding effort in in San Francisco won't work.
- "If Lynch and Shanahan don’t find a long-term quarterback, regardless of their long contracts, they will fail in their quest to lead the 49ers out of the wilderness."
- "It all sounds good—the enlightened GM, the overly bright coach—but nothing will matter until one of them picks the right quarterback to help rebuild the Niners. Knowing each man the way I do, I expect they both know it."
Now, it's worth pointing out that both Washington team president Bruce Allen and head coach Jay Gruden said just last week in Mobile that the plan is to bring Cousins back to the 'Skins, and Allen went a step further to say the team wants to get a long-term deal done.
If the Redskins want Cousins long-term, they can get that deal done. The price tag will be high, perhaps even more than the $20 million per year Lynch mentioned, but not unheard of at the position.
If the Redskins are intrigued by a trade offer, however, there seems to be little reason the hire of Lynch will change San Francisco's reported interest.
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