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What The Redskins Should Do About The Kirk Cousins Contract Situation

Al Galdi explains how the Redskins should approach their most important player issue this offseason

 

This Redskins offseason marks a third consecutive year of the Redskins-Kirk Cousins contract situation – what I affectionately call the #ChaChaCha.  I have very little faith that the team and the player are going to finally agree on a long-term deal.  The season-ending 18-10 loss at the Giants felt like the end of Kirk’s time as a Redskin.  But that doesn’t mean that the Redskins shouldn’t fight like crazy to sign him to a long-term deal.

If the Redskins truly do want to sign Kirk to a long-term deal (and they should), they can not use a franchise tag on him for a third straight year or even transition-tag him.  Slapping him with another franchise tag would just compel him to play under a franchise tag once again.  Using the transition tag would compel a team to make a front-loaded, borderline-unmatchable offer that would result in the Redskins losing Kirk for nothing.

So the Redskins need to sign Kirk to a long-term deal before the 2018 tag deadline – that is, if he’s actually open to signing a long-term deal with the team (and that’s a big “if”).  And they should do the following four things in order to get a long-term deal done.

 

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is greeted by fans as he leave the field after an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Landover, Md., Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. The Redskins defeated the Raiders 27-10. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

No. 1: Ignore Kirk’s horrendous performance in this season-ending loss at the Giants and instead focus on his overall body of work during a three-season stretch in which he has been a top-12 quarterback in the NFL.

Let’s make this clear: Kirk was horrendous in the loss at the Giants on New Year’s Eve.  He had his first three-pick game over the last three seasons.  Kirk’s Raw QBR was an abysmal 8.1, which was his worst in any game over the last three seasons.  His yards-per-pass-attempt was an atrocious 4.27, which was his worst in any game over the last three seasons.  And Kirk quarterbacked an offense that went 1-for-13 on third downs.

If you wanna go nuts over that game, knock yourself out.  You #AntiKirks already have done so.

But the more sane approach is to put greater emphasis on the bigger picture – like, say, the last three seasons.  Kirk, objectively speaking, was a top-10 quarterback in the NFL in 2015 and 2016.  His numbers were down this season, but he still was a top-15 quarterback in 2017.  Saying that Kirk has been anything less than a top-12 quarterback over the last three seasons is just wrong.  Here is the statistical proof:

  • Total QBR – This is ESPN’s top quarterback metric, Total Quarterback Rating, which is on a scale of 0 to 100.  It’s a lot better than the long-used passer rating, because Total QBR takes into account rushes, sacks and penalties.  Also, Total QBR is adjusted for opponent (as opposed to Raw QBR).  Kirk was sixth in the NFL in Total QBR in 2015 and 2016 and no. 17 this season.
  • Total EPA – This is Total Clutch-Weighted Expected Points Added, which is essentially a measure of how much a player contributes to winning.  EPA is the measure of a play’s impact on the score of the game.  Kirk among NFL quarterbacks in Total EPA was seventh in 2015, fifth in 2016 and no. 15 in 2017.
  • Yards Per Pass Attempt – Kirk was eighth in the NFL with a 7.67 YDS/A in 2015, third at 8.11 YDS/A in 2016 and ninth at 7.58 YDS/A this season.
  • DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) – This is a Football Outsiders metric that gives the value of a player’s performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage.  This is essentially to football what Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is to baseball.  Kirk among NFL quarterbacks was seventh in 2015, third in 2016 and no. 16 in 2017.

No. 2: Have Dan Snyder completely take over negotiations

Who the heck knows how much Kirk and his agent, Mike McCartney, do or do not like Bruce Allen and Eric Schaffer.  But what’s clear is that that dynamic has gotten the situation to where it is.  That statement issued by Bruce last July 17 was at least a shot at McCartney and at worst also a shot at Kirk.  I’ve been told that Dan meeting with Kirk and getting personally involved in the #ChaChaCha last offseason was due in no small part to the owner not liking the state of the situation.  Well, it’s time for him to take total control.  Say what you want about Dan, but he is a salesman.  He is a deal maker.  It’s how he made his fortune.  It’s how he convinced Joe Gibbs to come out of retirement prior to the 2004 season.  One of the great ironies of this whole situation is that 2000 Dan Snyder, who everyone wanted gone, could actually do a lot of good.

 

No. 3: Make your first offer your best offer

The now-infamous offer that included $53 million guaranteed at signing made by the Redskins to Kirk last May 2 was not a good-enough offer, but it also wasn’t some chump offer.  It was a starting-point offer.  The problem was that the offer was made on May 2 as opposed to Jan. 2.  The Redskins can’t afford to play any negotiating games this offseason if the team truly wants to sign Kirk to a long-term deal.  Dan needs to come at Kirk strong and show him not just the love but the money – I’m thinking a contract with an average annual value (AAV) between $28 million-$30 million.  Sound like a lot?  It is.  But it won’t sound so high in another year or two as a) the salary cap continues to increase b) teams continue to take advantage of rollover cap space and c) other quarterback contracts come up (most notably Aaron Rodgers’ deal).

 

No. 4: Have Joe Gibbs help to recruit Kirk to want to sign a long-term deal with the Redskins

I advocated for this last summer and will do so again now.  One of the potential reasons for the disconnect between Kirk and the Redskins may well be that he is a man of faith and those he is dealing with (Dan, Bruce, Eric, Jay Gruden) are not.  By the way, I have no idea the extent to which any of those guys are or aren’t religious, but I’ve never heard that religion is as important to them as it seems to be with Kirk.  Well, the greatest Redskin of ‘em all, Joe Gibbs, is also a man for whom faith is important.  I don’t know whether Kirk and Joe have ever had an in-depth conversation, but if you’re the Redskins, why wouldn’t you make use of the greatest coach in the history of the franchise and see if he can’t connect with Kirk on both a professional and spiritual level?  Religion is not for everyone.  But it is a very important and guiding force for a number of people in this world.  If Kirk and Joe share that bond, why not see if it can help to make Kirk feel more welcomed by the Redskins and make him more open to being with them for the long term?

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