9 July, 2014
Robert Griffin III is entering his third year with the Redskins. He has a new coach, new scheme, and a new perspective on his career after a very humbling second year in 2013. Still, he is entering his third year with a new sense of security as his head coach, Jay Gruden, has already dubbed him the undisputed starting quarterback for the upcoming season.
That leaves backup Kirk Cousins, who is also entering his third season in the NFL and with the Redskins, in a bit of limbo. Cousins has already expressed his desire to start in the NFL and his openness to being traded from Washington. But should the Redskins oblige?
Whether they will admit it or not, drafting Cousins was more about value than anything else. The hopes were for him to develop and become a true starter for either them or someone else, either way the team would win. But, no one predicted what occurred in 2013 with the Shanahan-Griffin drama, and now the timetable may have been sped up to make a decision on Cousins. His value is probably less than it was a year ago. Three starts, a 52-completion percentage, four touchdowns and seven interceptions, and 58.4 passer rating silenced the talks of a trade for a first round pick.
While the Redskins will entertain the offers, they will have to hope that some general manager sees Cousins as a true asset to their team. Otherwise, anything above a fourth round pick, which Cousins was, would be a steal. The NFL Draft pool of quarterbacks isn’t so deep. So that alone could drive up the price for him. But, with Josh McCown and Michael Vick being available in free agency, many would believe that they are a more valuable option than Cousins.
Cousins may not be valued high in regards of the other 31 NFL front offices, but his value to the Redskins still remains what it was entering the 2013 season. Regardless of Gruden’s decisions, Griffin’s health and development is uncertain. And that leaves Cousins stuck in purgatory, wanting to start, but being a huge asset and need for the Redskins as a backup.
Cousins is no sure-fire starter. At his best he would be traded to a team that he can start and serve as the stopgap between him and the future starter. Teams in desperate need of a quarterback like Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, and Minnesota are expected to draft a quarterback in one of the first two rounds of the draft. So, obtaining Cousins would be a matter of holding the fort until the rookie star is ready to take over the reins. At least in Washington he will still be given the ‘development’ tag, and will learn how to be a quarterback in the NFL even if it means sitting behind Griffin.
For the Redskins, Cousins is a better option than plan B. After McCown and Vick, none of the free agents is either an upgrade or bargain from Cousins.
At this point in his career Josh Freeman is a project. Shaun Hill does bring experience to the Redskins quarterback depth. But at 34 years of age, there is no molding him. And with Griffin’s injury history, Hill doesn’t spell out a safe valuable player to start a couple of games in Griffin’s absence more than Cousins. Tarvaris Jackson is athletic, but hasn’t developed his passing skills and you cannot say he is above Cousins in abilities.
Chad Henne would be an upgrade from Cousins. He brings experience as a starter and backup. But after starting 13 games last season, his price tag would be a bit much for a team that has roughly $25 million in cap space and so many needs to address. Besides there is no upside for Henne.
Everyone else available through free agency would be like having well… Rex Grossman, including Rex Grossman.
Drafting a replacement would be a step backwards for the Redskins. So much, it’s out of the question. At this point the Redskins need someone that can tutor Griffin, something they will lose with Grossman being a free agent. No rookie can provide that.
So that leaves the Redskins stuck with Cousins. Unless someone is knocking at the door offering something too good to pass up, it would be best the Redskins hang on to Cousins. As far as it goes for Cousins, the market may not be ready for him as a sure starter.