With Kirk Cousins’ pending free agency looming, the Denver Broncos players and supporters have been vocal in their desire to land the Redskins quarterback. So much so, local radio stations are debating at ends about the possibly of Cousins joining an established roster to get the Broncos back into contention for a Super Bowl. Recently the Mile High Huddle on Denver’s 104.3 The Fan reached out to the Redskins’ former general manager Scot McCloughan on his thoughts of Cousins.
McCloughan, who was fired before the 2017 season by Washington, has spent his professional career around a good crop of quarterbacks that have included Brett Favre, Russell Wilson, Matt Hasselbeck and Alex Smith, gave a lukewarm endorsement of Cousins.
“He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special,” McCloughan said on air.
McCloughan admitted that the Redskins were in the process of making Cousins special before he was ushered out of the organization.
“But also we were still building the roster around him to make him special,” he said. “Jay Gruden does a great job play-calling. Sean McVay did a great job play-calling, put him in situations to be successful. But he’s talented, and talented’s good at quarterback in the NFL.”
McCloughan expanded his thoughts of Cousins by speaking highly of his competitiveness and intangibles.
“He’s won games. I know his record overall is not over .500,” McCloughan said. “I know he’s not won a playoff game. But he’s competitive. He works his tail off. He’s so methodical. Every day he has planned out. He’s always in the building. He’s always watching tape. He’s always talking to coaches. He’s talking to me. From the standpoint of intangibles, they’re excellent.”
“You just need to have some talent around him, because you don’t want him to be throwing the ball 35, 40 times to win a game,” he said. “You want to have a running game, have a good defense, good teams and then let him do what he does. The thing about it that’s unique, and you don’t really see it too often, he’s a pretty good athlete with his legs. He can make plays moving around in the pocket and running for first downs.”
McCloughan does understand Cousins’ perspective of wanting stability and knowing he is the man.
“He’s highly, highly competitive. He comes across as a real nice guy, like Alex Smith did in interviews — and they are, but they’re both highly competitive and they want to win. But they want a stability, too. They want to know they’re in some spot where it’s not just a one-year deal, one-year deal, one-year deal. He wants a long-term deal.”
McCloughan backed and pushed for Cousins. He also urged the Redskins’ brass to work a long-term deal out before they lost leverage. They did not. And so, the Redskins are stuck in this unenvied spot asking themselves ‘What to do?’
McCloughan knows Cousins has the all the leverage now. But, he warns that because he is good not special you cannot risk the well-being of the roster for one position, even if it’s at quarterback.
“He’s a really good football player,” he said. “He’s a leader. He’s a smart guy. He does everything right. But he has all the leverage, and for a quarterback to be tagged the second year, which they did this last year to him, it was the first time ever in NFL history. If they tag him for the third time, that’s $34 million in one season. It’s good if you’ve got a guy that you know can win a world championship for ‘ya, but it affects the other guys, the other teammates, because of the fact of contracts.”
“You know, you’re investing so much money in one position, you’re gonna lose some good players, some good, young players who come up on contracts,” he said. “And that’s, as a GM’s standpoint, that’s how you have to look at it. You’d love to have him. I’m sure they’d love to have him back for another year. He’s had three solid seasons in a row. But it’s a huge investment and it’s gonna affect the team.”
But in today’s football, a contract that Cousins is expected to receive on the open market, is not designed for just “special” quarterbacks. It’s a merit case that subject to timing, and need. Cousins’ free agency will come in a perfect time when others in the same tier such as Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr have received similar deals that Cousins is expected to get.
Stafford is the model, and last spring he signed a deal that averages $27 million per year with guarantees that can reach $92 million. There is not much that separates the two. And, being Cousins has three straight years of 4,000 or more passing yards and done a lot with little to work with, some team whether it’s the Broncos, Redskins, or someone else is going to understand the market and give what it demands to obtain someone of Cousins’ abilities, special or not.