And we wait.
The Washington Redskins have until Wednesday to place the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins, their starting quarterback of the past two seasons. That's a move they're essentially a lock to make so they either ensure a third season with Cousins under center or that they receive compensation in the form of a trade.
At the moment, those seem like the primary options. Sign a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline rather than have Cousins play on the cap-unfriendly $23.9 million franchise tag salary for 2017? Maybe. The tone out there suggests don't hold your breath. That tone, which dates back to early 2016, is nothing new.
What's new, at least for the Jay Gruden-Scot McCloughan era Redskins is the talk of organization dysfunction. The past 20-ish years, sure. The last two, which included an NFC East title and a positive 17-14-1 record, not so much. That's changed as this past season ended with a thud in Week 17 against the New York Giants.
That change became impossible to ignore when earlier this month tight end-turned-Redskins radio analyst Chris Cooley discussed on air if McCloughan, Washington's general manager, had issues with drinking. Nobody knows what's what other than McCloughan essentially was relieved of duties in San Francisco and Seattle for such matters. Maybe the Redskins are protecting him. Maybe there's nothing to see. That the team didn't publicly rebuke Cooley for wild speculation suggests something is up. In which direction is that something, I'll let the dangerous speculators do their thing.
Why I'm bringing this McCloughan matter up at all is to make a point about the perception of the Cousins contract talk. Because of Cooley's comments, because the general manager hasn't been made available for public comments since the season ended, because of the organization's shake-my-head past under owner Daniel Snyder, it's easy to say dysfunction is back and the Redskins might lose a quarterback because of it.
Or maybe this is just where things were headed with Cousins all along. Did the Redskins botch the situation when they reportedly low-balled their 2012 fourth-round pick last year? Probably. Were they insane to pass on a multi-year deal paying big guarantees for a QB coming off one season as the starter if they weren't truly convinced he was the man? Probably not.
Here's what former agent and salary cap expert Joel Corry said on 106.7 last July 12:
"There is no logic not to do the deal if they're sold," Corry said. "I understand why they wouldn't be sold."
"I always thought that this would be a deal that didn't get done this year and if Kirk Cousins signed a long-term contract, it would be after the 2016 season," said Corry, who is also a former agent.
"One, [Cousins] doesn't have a long enough track record for Redskins to be comfortable paying him the way his agent, Mike McCartney, who is a very sharp guy, is going to want to be paid. If you're going to satisfy [them], you're going to have to pay him like an above-average quarterback."
This brings us to Camp Cousins. Under Gruden, this quarterback found a comfort level, an appreciation for his set of skills that hasn't always been readily apparent by others after Cousins was drafted to back up Robert Griffin III. Last summer I wrote that whatever happens with his contract situation, don't blame Cousins.
That doesn't mean only the Redskins are to *blame* if this marriage ends now or after next season, which is a lock if Cousins plays under a tag for a second straight season. The 2018 franchise tag would cost $34.4 million. No team is paying that, which means unrestricted free agency. Credit Cousins' discipline and the foresight of his agent Mike McCartney for playing the long game, a move we saw well before the franchise tag became the official 2016 contract.
"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," Cousins said last year.
His 2016 season was legit good. It just wasn't OMG this guy is amazing good. The Redskins have said they want to keep Cousins. They don't have the contract leverage. Camp Cousins doesn't appear willing to lower the yearly average price below what the 2017 franchise tag and 2018 free agency would likely pay. When given a chance to wrap himself in the Redskins flag after the season, Cousins remained distant.
In other words, nothing has really changed over the last 12 months no matter how much anyone talks about organizational dysfunction.