McCloughan Bets the “Don’t Pass Bar” on Cousins


So the offseason has run it’s course, and Kirk Cousins remains the Redskins “franchise QB” strapped to a ticking time bomb.

I’m not quite sure what the Redskins are “hoping” for in how they have played this one, but perhaps this season it will become clear.

GM Scot McCloughan says repeatedly, he hopes Kirk is the team’s QB “for a long time to come.”

Sure, but his chips are not on that line. His chips are on the “Don’t Pass Bar”, not yet convinced the man who saved the entire season for McCloughan and Jay Gruden last August when RG3 imploded in the pre-season, is really “the man.”

Sure, he only set four team records (total yards, total completions, completion percentage, and 300-yard games) and led the NFL in completion percentage. In the final four games of the year, Cousins threw for 12 TDs and ran for 2 more as the Skins offense averaged over 28 ppg.

He did so, without any semblance of a reliable rushing attack. The team finished 20th in ground yards per game, and even that only with a few outlier results. Cousins rushed for 5 TDs. Alfred Morris and Matt Jones, 4. Combined.

As a 4th year player, Kirk has proven his professional discipline, leadership mettle, and patience. Moreover, he did so amidst the turmoil and bullshit of the RG3 experience.

So what exactly are the Redskins afraid of with this guy?

That he’ll revert to a high-interception rate back-up caliber player once you load him up with a long term deal? And that he’ll STAY that way, for the rest of his career here in Washington?

I mean, really, what are the odds of that?

Even if Kirk were to “slump” this year (and let’s be honest, completing nearly 70% of his passes is approaching the NFL QB “sound barrier” in terms of statistics) so what? You are saying you think he can’t or won’t bounce back in 2017?

I know this much: If Kirk plays this year to within the margins of his stats last season – and let’s just call that +/- 10% on the relative stats that matter – then he’s going to break the bank this winter. McLoughan’s options go from terrible to nearly impossible at that point.

He’ll end up paying another 20% on Kirk, which to mean seems an awfully high premium to set yourself up for, just because you aren’t quite sure….. right now.

Like I said at the top: “What are the Redskins brass HOPING for?” For Kirk to fail, so they can let him walk out the door. So they can puff out their chest and say: “See… told ya!” So they can start over from scratch, with no QB of the future on the roster, and quite possibly out of draft position to get one next spring?

I mean, surely McCloughan understands he won’t get Kirk for one penny CHEAPER than what he and his agent are asking for now, does he? If he does, he’s a fool. The salary cap goes up. The price of NFL tickets goes up. The TV contracts keep going up. It’s an up, up, up league.

QB’s ain’t getting any cheaper, either.

Anyone who sits on his ass at home watching this league, knows the essential truth: Either you HAVE a QB, or you have NOTHING.


And “starters” in this league, are guys who START a reliable 16 out of 16 games. They are QB’s who know how to avoid getting destroyed by needless hits in the pocket (think: read and throw!) and are good enough, that it’s pretty clear THEY are not the problem with your team winning and losing games.

These “starters” are not cheap. They are also, not all very sexy or spectacular. They are often guys like Andy Dalton, who was considered overpaid the minute he signed his 2nd contract, and is now a flat out bargain. They are guys like Joe Flacco, who don’t overwhelm you with numbers, but instead keep proving they are “big game hunters” by winning in the playoffs.

By any measure, Kirk Cousins is a “starter.” Therefore, he’s going to get paid like one.

It’s just a measure of how much, and when.

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Steve Czaban is a 25 year sports radio veteran, who hosts an afternoon drive show in Washington D.C. "Czabe" also writes and edits his own commentaries for and other on-line and print publications. He can be reached at


  1. I have to go ahead and disagree. Is Kirk a “starter”? Maybe. I’ll even go on a limb and say probably. But no one knows for sure which is why they are not committing to any long term deal right now and I don’t blame them. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cousins and he had a MONSTER 2nd half last season… but that’s all he had. If you look at the totality of his tenure in Washington, he was miserable up to that point. It wasn’t all his fault but the fact remains that he was yanked as a starter 2 years ago and replaced with Colt after a few stinkers. He was named the starter last year and played mediocre at best until midseason. I think it would’ve been unwise to commit a pile of money and long term deal to a guy who played well in only 8 games over a 4 year period.

    Of course it’ll be more expensive at the end of next year if Cousins is legit… and the Redskins will gleefully pay him. If you discovered a potential HOF franchise QB on your roster, you would too. Move over Luck, there’s a new $$$ Sheriff in town! But if Cousins plays less than that, his offer will be less. At least the sample size of his body of work will have increased by another full season and therefore, be a much better representation of what Kirk brings to the table. And he’ll get paid accordingly.

    The question was asked… are they afraid that Cousins will “revert back to a high-interception-rate backup caliber QB?” I would have to say YES, THEY ARE. Washington’s backsides are probably still smoking from the RG3 burn. It took years to recoup the resources spent to get him and they have yet to recoup in terms of having a good, solid QB post RG3. Cousins MIGHT be it, but then again, he may not. The Redskins are understandably gun shy.

    Besides, what’s the big deal? If Cousins really has the professional discipline, leadership mettle and patience, he will understand that the team comes first. At the very least, he gets “Top 3 QB” paycheck for all of next year and the chance to prove, once and for all, that he’s a star. If he is a star, then he’s guaranteed to be one of the highest paid players in the league which makes Kirk deliriously happy. Washington is also deliriously happy that they’ve found their Tom Brady. It’s a win-win.

    What will be interesting to me is Osweiller in Houston. They did what Washington would not. Brock did all right in Denver but the sample size is tiny and the team he played on won the Super Bowl. I’m thinking it’s not all that hard to win on a Super Bowl caliber team.

    • You pay the man and you do so in line with today’s market value and add a bit of a premium. Lock it up. Long term deal.

      Not doing so means you’re betting on Kirk underwhelming which is dumb, dumb, dumb.

  2. You’ve been right on this all along. The news that came out after July 15, that the Redskins were only offering $24M, changes the picture drastically. Before that, most people were assuming they were offering $40M or so, Kirk was asking for $50M or so, so the Redskins could either come up to 45 or so or wait until next year and risk being on the hook for 60. Not that big a difference, and you could believe the team (especially the owner) was willing to risk an additional 10-20 long-term to see him do it for another year.

    But if they were only offering 24, and Kirk has another decent-to-good year, they won’t need to come up 10-20; they’ll need to triple that. Then we’ll start to hear about how Kirk has had just one-and-a-half good seasons and just 12 good games, how he had good people around him (remember when Scott said that around the end of the season, and you said it wasn’t good?) — all the same rhetoric from this year with the numbers adjusted a bit.

    Crazy as it is, I think there’s a better than even chance he’s playing somewhere else in three years.


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