The first thing you notice, once you look a little more closely into the Skins’ attempt to gain the high ground on Kirk Cousins, is that in the video meant to smear the quarterback as unreasonable, team president Bruce Allen repeatedly calls him “Kurt.”
The second thing you notice is that the Skins’ self-proclaimed enormous, generous, record-setting contract offer actually amounts to only $300,000 in new money. The Skins are a joke, and you can stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Let’s back up. Monday afternoon, the deadline passed for teams to reach contract extensions with players who have been slapped with the franchise tag. It was by that point, after an offseason of fruitless negotiations, more or less expected that no deal would be reached, and Cousins would become the first QB in history to play a second straight year on a franchise tag. What wasn’t expected was that the Skins would immediately go public.
Washington posted a video of Bruce Allen on the team website, and released a statement from Allen that attempted to “clarify our negotiations” with Cousins. What the PR actually tried to do was to signal to fans that the team had offered Cousins the moon, and that his demands had been extravagant. It failed on all fronts.
“Our goal was to sign Kirk to a long-term contract with the final objective of having him finish his career with the Redskins. On May 2, right after the draft, we made Kirk an offer that included the highest fully guaranteed amount upon signing for a quarterback in NFL history ($53 million) and guaranteed a total of $72 million for injury. The deal would have made him at least the second highest-paid player by average per year in NFL history. But despite our repeated attempts, we have not received any offer from Kirk’s agent this year. Kirk has made it clear that he prefers to play on a year-to-year basis.”
Well, no. What Cousins preferred was to receive an offer anywhere close to what he’d get in free agency, which he hasn’t been allowed to test for two straight offseasons thanks to the exclusive franchise tag.
The deal claimed by the Skins is painted as a five-year extension, with $53 million guaranteed. That sounds great! Unless you consider what Cousins is basically guaranteed already.
Cousins will make $23.9 million on the franchise tag in 2017. (And while the Skins purposefully didn’t make this clear, their $53M guarantee includes that franchise tag guarantee they’re already committed to.) In 2018, to keep him from leaving, the Skins have the option of franchising him again, or, more realistically, giving him the transition tag, which would pay $28.8 million. The franchise tag this season and the transition tag next season amount to $52.7 million. That’s just $300,000 shy of the $53 million Washington offered and is touting as the highest-ever guarantee for a QB.
And about those later, non-guaranteed years in the extension the Skins were proposing. The Washington Post’s Mike Jones has some details, and it sounds like a pretty insulting offer.
The proposal also called for Cousins to essentially play for less in the seasons of 2019 through 2022. His average salary would have been in the low $20-million range, one person with knowledge of the offer said, during years that could be considered his prime.
To follow this to its logical conclusion, the Skins offered Cousins an extra $300,000 if he would only commit to trapping himself in four extra, non-guaranteed seasons of below-market salary. Then they went and bragged about their offer, as if their fans wouldn’t see through it.
Whether you believe Cousins is worth $20M, or $25M, or even $30M a year, there are teams out there who do. If he’s allowed to hit free agency next year, San Francisco or Cleveland or some other QB-desperate team is going to give him the monster contract he wants (and that he’d have already been offered and signed if not for the existence of the franchise tag). The Skins know this. They’re just not sure if they want to be the ones to give him that much money, and would rather go year-to-year as long as possible before having to decide. But in doing so, and inexplicably trying to smear Cousins as ungrateful for rejecting their feeble offer, they’ve made pretty damn sure that he won’t want anything to do with Washington once the choice is his.
And then, after all this, a Skins spokesperson was forced to claim that we only misheard Bruce Allen call Cousins “Kurt” because of his accent. This team is incredible, both in the sense that their incompetence never fails to astonish, and in the more literal sense that that nothing they say is credible.