Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.
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On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.
A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:
“How much do you want for your house?”
“It’s not for sale.”
“No, really, how much do you want.”
“Really, it’s not for sale.”
“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”
In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.
The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.
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The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.
That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.
So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.
For a signal caller looking to take the next step in his career, the consensus around the NFL is that Cleveland isn't the best spot to do so, and for good reason. The constant quarterback and coaching turnover that happens in the Browns organization makes them the antithesis of stable.
Therefore, when a report this week stated that there may be some intrigue between Kirk Cousins and the league's worst team, a fair amount of eyebrows were raised. But in a new #RedskinsTalk podcast, Redskins Insider JP Finlay and NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo discussed the merits of playing in Cleveland (yes, that sentence was intentionally included in this story and is not a mistake).
"I feel like Cleveland is looking for a veteran option," Garafolo told Finlay. "I really believe that."
"Hue Jackson wants to win now," he continued. "That feeling of losing that he had last year did not sit well with him, and he got emotional at a few points during the season. So I think he's looking to turn this thing around quickly, and not make this a longer rebuild. And the way you do that is with a veteran quarterback."
So far, most have only made a connection between Cousins and his former coach Kyle Shanahan, who's now in charge of the 49ers. But Jackson has a reputation similar to Shanahan's of being a guy who's desirable to play for, even with his unsightly 1-15 record from 2016.
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In addition, even with Tuesday's news that the Redskins placed an exclusive franchise tag on No. 8, a trade is still possible between Washington and another franchise, which is why Garafolo "could see [the Browns] certainly emerging as a strong candidate for Cousins."
Another thing to consider is Cousins' aspiration to suit up for a team that wants him, something he's made clear in recent months. If he doesn't feel that way with the Burgundy and Gold, he could force their hand by not agreeing to a long-term deal (if he's offered one), which in turn could push the Redskins to trade him to ensure they get something for him.
Garafolo can also see that affecting how the next few months go.
"The other thing you got to remember about Cousins," he said, "is that he's so frustrated with the lack of a commitment from the Redskins now, that a team that is going to be able to convince him, 'Hey come here...we've got the right plan, we'll build around you, I'm a quarterback friendly coach,' you know what? That may be enough to sell him."
Cousins has already formed a nice relationship with one former Bengals offensive coordinator in Jay Gruden. In Jackson, there's potential there to form another. And if the Browns work hard enough and the Redskins don't, what at first seemed like a longshot may not end up being one.
For the full conversation about Cousins and the Browns, plus Garafolo's thoughts on Colt McCoy as Redskins starter in 2017, listen to the #RedskinsTalk podcast below. And don't forget to subscribe.