The NFL QB is the most valued position on the field. When a team finds a guy that they suspect can lea the franchise, they pay him and pay him well. Thus was the case for Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Luck received a 6 year, $140 million contract with $87 million in guaranteed money. $44 million was given at contract signing. This made him the highest paid in league history. What does this mean for the Kirk Cousins and his contract? Let us examine this below.
Kirk Cousins was drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was taken by Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins as an insurance policy to the fragile Robert Griffin III. As seasons started to progress an injuries mounted up on RG3, speculation grew that Cousins would get his chance sooner rather than later. Many in and around the organization thought if Cousins ever got the chance he would excel. Excel he did!
In the beginning, the road was rough. Cousins was viewed as a turnover machine. After RG3 went down, in 2014, with a dislocated ankle the Cousins train was started. He would show glimpses throughout his starts in 2014. However, he would never really grasp a full control of the team.
In August of 2015 Head Coach Jay Gruden would make a surprise announcement in making Kirk Cousins the starting QB of the Washington Redskins. “It’s Kirk’s team!” he said. That is when the acceleration and maturation began. Up until week 1 of the 2015 season, Cousins had only started 8 games in his career. That is half of a NFL season. They say it takes 2 or 3 yrs for a QB to fully develop. Cousins was developing on the job. Then it happened. Week 7 of the 2015 season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers something clicked. Cousins led the Redskins back from a 24 pt deficit, largest in franchise history. The “You Like That!” game was a turning point in his career and status as a franchise QB.
How does the play into his contract talks, you ask? See 2015 was Cousins’ final year of his rookie deal. He was set to become a free agent at the end of the season. With his elevated level of play after the Buccaneers game his contract became more and more the talk. Is he going to be worth franchise money after such a small sample? Is his play currently warranted? The Redskins believed it was and slapped the franchise tag on him at the start of free agency making him worth at least $19.9 million.
With the placing and signing of the franchise tag, the Redskins retained exclusive negotiating rights to Kirk Cousins. They have until July 15, 2016 to work out a long-term deal. Meanwhile, other free agent QBs are signing big money contracts. Brock Osweiler signs a 4 year $72 million deal with the Houston Texans. Sam Bradford signs a 2 year $35 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, Andrew luck signs his deal. All while Cousins is still negotiating.
What this all means is that there is a floor of $20 million dollars and a ceiling of $24 million for Cousins to sign under. Is Cousins worth $24 million/year on such a small sample of good play? Probably not. Thus the reason why the Redskins and him have not agreed to a long-term deal. There needs to be a bigger taste to fulfill the hunger.
All in all the Andrew Luck signing is a target for Kirk Cousins. The Redskins want to see him continue his high level of play that he finished the 2015 season with. If he can sustain that for a full 16 games in 2016 then there should be no reason he does not get a long term deal. The franchise tag will again be an option for Washington. However, it is now an estimated $24 million for 2017. Look for a long-term deal to be reached in the area of $22-23 million per year before the start of free agency in 2017. This would be the best for both Cousins and the Redskins!