After reporting Friday that quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins were “nowhere close to a new deal,” CBS Sports’ Jason LaCanfora elaborated when he took to the airwaves on 106.7’s “Grant and Danny” show Tuesday.
“They’ve obviously got some differing opinions with where they at least started their proposals,” LaCanfora said.
There were clearly differences with information among NFL Insiders. Tuesday afternoon ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that talks between the Redskins and Cousins broke off altogether. La Canfora countered soon after.
Any negotiation, by definition, starts with two parties holding contrasting opinions, so the news isn’t particularly shocking at this early stage in the offseason, especially considering Cousins holds most of the bargaining chips.
“They look to him as a viable, winning, NFL quarterback,” LaCanfora said earlier Tuesday on 106.7. “Someone with considerable upside.”
Cousins and his agent are undoubtedly aware that he holds a considerable share of power in the current negotiations. Additionally, there isn’t much incentive for them to rush into a long-term contract now. They have nothing to lose by forcing Washington to use its franchise tag, which must be done by March 1. In doing so, assuming the Redskins would in fact decide to tag him, Cousins would gain a guarantee of a roughly $20 million, one-year deal. He would also have until mid-summer to continue negotiating a long-term deal with the team.
“In instances where a player is about to have some serious leverage--as certainly someone like Cousins will in this case given how he performed and given the team’s desire to keep him and given what it costs to keep a quarterback and given the price of the quarterback franchise tag and the fact the oh, we’re now in the franchise-tag period,” LaCanfora said.
“I think it’s to be expected. And well see how this dance plays out. Well see how much they’re actually able to accomplish in the next couple weeks. And then if he ends up getting franchised, certainly how much they accomplish between March and the middle of July when the period to extend those guys runs out.”
LaCanfora explained that the Redskins likely opened negotiations expecting to pay Cousins something in the range of the contract that the Kansas City Chiefs extended to Alex Smith, which guaranteed Smith roughly $15 million per year. If that’s the case, Cousins doesn’t have much of a reason to settle. The Redskins, meanwhile, have a dilemma when it comes to the hefty price of the upcoming quarterback tag.
“In this case it works against [Washington] in that—is Kirk Cousins worth $20 million a year?” LaCanfora said. “I don’t think so.”
But comparing Cousins to the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and the other top-earning quarterbacks isn’t the sole determinant of his value. The free agent competition, which is scarce at the position, plays a major role.
“He’s out here in a market where: Who is he competing with? Sam Bradford?” LaCanfora said.
Though most negotiations involving money carry a fair amount of uncomfortable situations, Cousins isn’t despondent about the Redskins or vice versa, according to LaCanfora.
“There’s no bad blood or anything like that,” LaCanfora said. “[Cousins] feels great about the opportunity he got under Jay Gruden and the ability to continue to develop. And [the Redskins] feel great about the way he handled himself under some adverse conditions.”
Clearly one of Cousins' teammates feels great about the quarterback under next season.
We'll see if Swaggy has any sway.
Dan Roth is a freelance sportswriter and Breaking Burgundy contributor. Follow Dan on Twitter @danrothdc.
To get instant Redskins notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE!
Be sure to check out the ever-growing benefit package of being a Breaking Burgundy Insider! Check it out HERE.