NFL teams are taking breaks ahead of next month's training camp. That's in terms of the on-field personnel, but all business slows in this stretch. Contract negotiations, say with a franchise-tagged quarterback, will continue. There just isn't much incentive to hurry with, in this not-so hypothetical case involving Kirk Cousins, the July 15 deadline for a long-term deal still weeks away.
For now, we'll receive the occasional update on those talks. MMQB's Albert Breer provided one Thursday in connection with overall league business and talks between the Indianapolis Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck. Those hoping for signs of progress won't be happy. Those fearing a deal won't get done at all won't be either.
First, the assumption has been for some time that, before training camp, the Colts will lock up Andrew Luck with a deal that may well reset the market. From what I can tell, there’s no reason to believe that doesn’t happen. Far more complicated is the negotiation between Kirk Cousins and the Redskins. The assumption now, according to both sides, is that Cousins will play the 2016 season on his $19.95 million franchise tender. The Redskins and Cousins’ camp have spoken over the last week or so, and while talks remain amicable they’re going nowhere. The baseline, as Cousins’ side sees it here, is the $44 million the quarterback would get when you add this year’s tag and next year’s tag together, in the first two years of any new deal. Washington has basically communicated that it wants to see Cousins do it again before making that sort of financial leap. The risk for the Skins, of course, would be that Luck resets the market, Cousins lights it up again, and then they’re negotiating off a $23.94 million tag next spring. Add it up, and it’s not unlike the Joe Flacco situation in 2012.
The reporting from Breer that the Cousins camp views the 2016 and 2017 tags as the first two years of a new deal is important. It also jives with my sense of recent remarks made by the QB about the negotiations.
"As we've said before, the reason I signed the franchise tag as quickly as I did was because I felt it to be a great opportunity for me, a good contract. I really have no issue with it. In order to sign an additional contract beyond that, it would need to be a deal that puts me in a great opportunity, a great spot because already the franchise tag does that.
The Redskins were wise to slap the franchise tag on Cousins based on his impressive 2015 season and their other options should he bolt. It's also understandable why they'd like to see the first-year starter produce for a second campaign before agreeing to the kind of lucrative long-term deal Cousins desires.
Yet after not having a chance to compete for the starting role during his first three seasons and after rewriting the Redskins record books and seeing the lack of viable quarterbacks around the league, it's also understandable why Cousins would pass on taking a perceived discount. There's also risk if he waits, whether injury or performance, but not many predicted Cousins would ever become a viable starter in the first place.
Hunker down, folks.
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