If you have ever had to hoist a heavy, tall pole of any kind in an upright position, you’ll get this analogy. I had to do this with when putting on the uprights to my semi-home-made steel kicking goalposts in my backyard. Because the posts are long (15-feet) and heavy, and because I can only grab the bottom 3-4 feet of it to lift it into place (along with the help of a strong neighbor), it’s crucial that you keep the post straight vertical as long as possible – and at all costs.
When you start to feel the post tipping, then with every inch it starts to lean, the force exerted against you to keep it upright becomes exponentially more impossible to fight.
At a certain point, the post just falls to the ground, and you have to start all over.
The Redskins are now at this point with Kirk Cousins.
They lost the precious window in which the guaranteed weight of the franchise tag salary was not going to start work against them. In the winter of ’16, when Kirk’s franchise number was $20M, the team came in weak and somewhat insulting with a $16M/per year offer that set in (slow) motion the last 18 months of non-action Kirk contract “cha-cha-cha” as Galdi would say.
So no, I don’t think the Derek Carr signing does anything really to help or hurt the chances Kirk signs a new long term deal by July 17. I thought those chances were only about 5% before this new QB salary “data point” and it was a “courtesy” 5% anyway, filed under: “Well… you never know.”
What I do find interesting, is that most people – almost reflexively – say that Carr is the “better” player. Point blank. No blinking. Hmmm. Okay. How, exactly? If you stack up the numbers, Kirk has the better of Carr in almost every category, over a similar span of starts (although the years in the league are quite different).
They both have played on flawed non-playoff/barely playoff teams. Both have had some good weapons, and less-than-dependable defenses.
So why is there an assumption that Carr is better? The stigma on Kirk Cousins as somebody who “just-can’t-be-that-good” is proving to be amazingly hard to shake.
I’ll admit, that Carr seems to be more of a “baller” type QB. A scramble and make miracles happen kind of guy, that the more methodical Kirk, is not. But look at Cousins’ gaudy rushing TD numbers over the last two years. So what if few of them were Mike Vick ankle-breakers? If running the ball into the endzone as a QB in this league was so easy…. trust me… more of them would do it!
I heard Charlie Casserly say Carr is the better player. And he made reference to him being a better deep ball attacker, and that Kirk – while exceptional at reading and getting the ball out on time with accuracy – isn’t as good as when he has to hold the ball and make a play against a well disguised zone.
Okay, fair point. If true. I don’t pretend from the couch to be an expert of that level. All I know is that you can win with Cousins. A big bucket of games, with Kirk Cousins. He’s a starter. A guy who you say: “Here’s the job” and he treats it with the full professional diligence and care any team would want to have in their starting QB.
And starters cost $25M++ right now. They cost a little LESS about 2 years ago (like say $20M++) but the price is going up, and it’s never coming down. So if you like having a starter, and don’t like having 16 weeks of live game auditions that count in the standings (I’m looking at YOU, Cleveland!) then you better get the guy locked up.
But here we still are. Kirk is not locked up. So at this point, I propose a radical approach for the Skins brass that is our only hope for a long and wonderful marriage.
Tell Kirk you will not use the franchise tag again this winter. Not even the “transition” tag. Apologize for letting it come to this point. Say to him publicly, and honestly: “Look, we love you. You are the best thing to happen to us at QB in over 20 years. We want you here for 10 more years of great football. But we screwed up just a bit. We thought the first franchise tag was just a placeholder, and we never got our numbers right. And we did it again this winter.”
“So after this season, Kirk will be a free agent, and he can leave if he wants. But we not only think he can best thrive in our offense, with our coaching staff, and the team we are building around him… we also know that we will not lose a bidding war for his services. As anyone who has been here under owner Daniel M. Snyder, one thing he does not lose are battles for high profile free agents.”
It’s the “if you love something, set it free” approach. Crazy? Maybe. Humbling? Sure. But I think it has the best chance for success.
It removes the Redskins from looking like contractual hostage-takers. It puts subtle pressure on Kirk to contemplate having to be the “bad guy” by leaving. And best of all, it allows the Redskins to avoid looking like dopes for signing Kirk now to a deal that is for way too much money, for somebody who many insist is not as good as his numbers say he is.
If the Skins sign Kirk in an open bidding war this winter, and end up setting a record for new QB money, but they do it only because the Niners, and Rams, and Broncos all had offers in the same range, then you can legitimately say: “Hey, I know it’s crazy, but we’re not the only ones who understand starting QB value vs. cost.”
Lastly, if you still think I’m nuts, let me just remind you of reality. Remember, the heavy pole they were trying to lift into place got out of leverage, and has crashed to the ground.
Kirk and his agent know that his client has ALREADY SIGNED a 3-year guaranteed contract with the Washington Redskins for $72 million. They virtually “signed” their own deal, the minute the Redskins locked them in the franchise tag basement. Kirk and his agent understood two things 1) Franchise tag values for QB’s are fantastic! 2) No team has ever franchised a QB, and then NOT franchised him the following year if a deal didn’t get done.
Kirk lucked into a team that hit “start” on a doomsday clock that now can’t be stopped. In fact, I’d be shocked if any team ever uses the franchise tag on a good QB ever again. Even for a minute. It’s too risky for the team!
Since 2007, only 3 other QB’s besides Kirk have ever been hit with the franchise tag. In fact, each year there should be – in theory – 32 franchise players (i.e. good free agents to be, that you can prevent from hitting the market) but instead the annual average is only 8 players for the entire league.
That should be your first big warning! Using it on a QB, was viewed by almost everyone as needlessly risky, expensive and ultimately antagonistic.
In 2012 Drew Brees wore the tag briefly in the off-season before the Saints gave him a massive new deal. In 2011 Mike Vick wore it until the very end of August before getting a new $100M deal from the Eagles. And in 2009 the Patriots put the “non-exclusive” tag on Matt Cassell, with the full intention of flipping him in a trade – which they did, for a seemingly un-impressive single 2nd rounder from the Chiefs. (They still ripped Kansas City blind!)
In the cases of Brees and Vick, the Saints and Eagles enjoyed a certain degree of leverage. Brees had won a Super Bowl in New Orleans, had deep ties to the community, and loves Sean Payton. Leaving for slightly more money woulda been really hard. And Vick was easy for the Eagles. The guy had a mountain of bankruptcy debt staring him in the face! Who wouldn’t take a long term deal over a single season at $16M?
The Skins have zero leverage on Kirk. In fact, I think they’ve kinda pissed him off.
I repeat: using the tag on Kirk was a mistake from the jump. So let’s admit it, be honest about our appreciation of him as our starter, and commit to winning his trust both on the field and off, and also at the negotiating table this winter.
The door is open. You will be free to leave. But we plan on convincing you that you’d be crazy to do so.
They say that’s how love works. No matter what, Kirk will win in the end. He’s got $44M in the bank from the Redskins, he will get a multi-year contract from somebody next season even if he stinks like a rotten carp in 2017 and the Skins let him walk.
Oh, and here’s a video of his wedding day. Does this look like a man who worried about breaking a leg and “not getting paid” as a free agent this winter?