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What would a Kirk Cousins contract extension look like?

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What would a Kirk Cousins contract extension look like?

The Redskins have won two of their last three games, with quarterback Kirk Cousins playing a major part in the two wins. Cousins is a free agent at the end of the season and talk is starting to turn towards the possibility of the Redskins and the quarterback beginning discussions on a new deal.

According to reports, no talks have started between the Redskins and Mike McCartney, Cousins' agent. Jay Gruden said yesterday that Cousins "is a guy we'd like to keep around."

Cousins’ signed the standard four-year rookie deal after he was drafted in 2012. This year he is making the fourth-year veteran minimum salary of $660,000 this season. That’s great money for most of America but it’s not much for a starting NFL quarterback.

What would a Cousins extension look like? With seven games left in this, his first season the full-time starter, there are still a lot of variables. But barring either a total collapse or a Cousins-led run deep into the playoffs, we have a comparable deal that we can look at to get an idea.

Nick Foles, also drafted in 2012, recently got a contract extension from his current team, the Rams. He was traded from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason. In Philadelphia Foles had one very good year as a starter. In 2013 he started 10 games, threw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions, and posted an impressive passer rating of 119.2. That performance earned him a Pro Bowl selection.

He came back to earth in 2014, missing half the season with injuries and posting 13 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and a passer rating of 81.4.

Despite those pedestrian numbers, the Rams made the trade and got to work signing him to an extension. They agreed on a two-year extension that put a little more cash in his pocket this year (the last season of his rookie deal) and put him under contract through 2017. The two-year extension is worth $24.5 million with $13.7 million of that guaranteed. He can also earn up to $4.5 million in incentives and the last year of his contract can be voided by meeting performance benchmarks.

Foles’ deal also is fairly painless for the Rams to get out of after 2016 since all of the guaranteed money will have been paid out. That is relevant now because he has been benched, although Jeff Fisher said that Foles will return as the starter at some point.

There is a key difference between Foles’ situation prior to this season and the one the Redskins have with Cousins now. Foles had a year left on his contract so the Rams were giving him his payday early. That perhaps led to something of a hometown discount for the Rams.

At most, the Redskins will be buying out less than two months of free agency for Cousins and probably less than that. Between that factor and the fact that the salary cap will grow by some $10 million per team this year could push Cousins’ deal somewhat north of $12 million per year.

I don’t see it going too much higher than that, however, barring a tremendous run by Cousins and the Redskins over the last seven games. There has been speculation that Cousins could end up in the $17 million per year range, perhaps higher. But you won’t find any one-year starters who are making that kind of money. Quarterbacks with contracts averaging from $17-$18 million per year are the likes of Peyton Manning, Alex Smith, Matt Stafford, Tony Romo and Jay Cutler. That’s too high for Cousins, who will have 25 career starts under his belt at the end of the season.

The market is likely to force Cousins to take less per season than most starting quarterbacks will make (a deal averaging $12 million per year would rank 21st among quarterbacks) but he won’t sign a long-term deal at that price. And he will want some incentives and escalators in case he does outperform the contract.

Putting all of that together, we’re looking at something in the neighborhood of three years in the $35-$40 million range with about $15 million guaranteed. Throw in the possibility of adding a couple of million per year in incentives and make the third year void if Cousins plays well and you have the outlines of a deal.

Some of you who are not sold on Cousins as the answer for the future might think that $40 million is an outrageous amount of money to pay him. But quarterbacks are expensive and they are expensive because of simple economics—the demand exceeds the supply. If you don’t pay Cousins, the question becomes who do you pay? There is not a tree somewhere that a team can go to and grab a quarterback who can post a perfect passer rating in a game or lead three fourth-quarter comebacks in a four-game span including one from 24 points down.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—First round of draft could fall into place

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—First round of draft could fall into place

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 21, 96 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 39
NFL free agency starts 47
First Sunday of 2017 season 232

The Redskins week that was

A look back at the week with some of the top posts on RealRedskins.com and on CSNmidatlantic.com.  

 

An early look at 1st-round draft possibilities for the Redskins—This post marked 100 days until the draft and now were a few days closer. It’s very early but the preliminary big boards make it look like the Redskins are likely to have a defensive lineman such as Solomon Thomas of Stanford or Mailk McDowell of Michigan State wind up as the best available player so that both the fans a Scot McCloughan can be happy.

Cap room a dilemma for Redskins McCloughan?—There is plenty of talk about how expensive Kirk Cousins’ contract or franchise tag will be and how the expense could affect the ability to spend in other positions. But the team has $62 million in cap space. If they don’t spend a good chunk of it on Cousins what will they do with it? They could bring back Pierre Garçon, Chris Baker and make new deals for eligible 2014 draft picks like Bashaud Breeland and Morgan Moses and still have a lot left over. If they don’t spend it a quarterback, what will they do with it? I do know that if they have, say, $20 million in cap space left and they are around .500 again, the fans and media will not be happy.

Projecting the Redskins 2017 roster—Offense—The changes on this side of the ball will feel more like reloading than rebuilding. I’m assuming Cousins will be back one way (long-term deal) or another (tag). At least four out of the five O-linemen are set and the tight ends will get set if McCloughan can lure Vernon Davis back. We’ll see if the running back corps gets shaken up in the draft or in free agency. The one area that could be wide open is receiver and even that could remain relatively stable if Garçon returns.

3 of 4 Redskins named to Pro Bowl won't attend—I think fans generally have become much more apathetic about Pro Bowl selections compared to, say, seven or eight years ago. Playing in the exhibition game is an “honor” that so many choose not to accept or, as was the case with Brandon Scherff, Ryan Kerrigan, and Jordan Reed, they are too injured after a 16-game season to take part. Meanwhile, alternates Cousins, Josh Norman, and Jamison Crowder (as a kick returner) have not yet heard their phones ring. Why does the NFL even bother with the Pro Bowl? People still watch it. Ratings for the last edition (4.5) were about a point lower than the MLB All-Star game (5.4) and a tick above the NBA All-Star game (4.3). Those are not huge ratings but big enough to turn a profit.  

The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins—I think that the first offer that both sides make here is going to be critical. If the Redskins lowball Cousins again it will set a bad tone. If Cousins’ offer is too high the Redskins could think that Cousins is determined to leave. And both sides need to be willing to negotiate. If any of that took place last year there was very little. With no give and take the talks will go nowhere. 

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In case you missed it

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

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Report: One more potential defensive coordinator is off the market for the Redskins

Report: One more potential defensive coordinator is off the market for the Redskins

Well it looks like the name many considered to be the Redskins top choice at defensive coordinator is off the market. Adam Schefter broke the news of Gus Bradley to the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Redskins interviewed Bradley early in their process of selecting a new defensive coordinator. His latest gig ended poorly after he was fired as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Bradley's best success came as defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks.

When he served in that role with Seattle, Bradley worked with Scot McCloughan. And prior to his coaching stint in Seattle, Bradley coached in Tampa, where he worked with both Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden.

Those connections, and his success in Seattle, had many fans hoping Bradley would take over for Joe Barry, who Washington dismissed more than two weeks ago.

The connection between Bradley and the Chargers comes as no surprise, and it leaves    Washington still in need of a defensive boss.

Mike Pettine probably jumps to the top of the ranks of other coaches the Redskins have interviewed, but it still seems internal candidate Greg Manusky could be in position to move up to coordinator. Manusky spent the 2016 season as outside linebackers coach and has prior coordinator experience.

The Skins have also interviewed Dennis Thurman, last of Buffalo, Jason Tarver, last of San Francisco, Rob Ryan, also last in Buffalo, and John Pagano, last with the Chargers.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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