If Kirk Cousins can continue the high level of play he demonstrated in the Redskins' Week 15 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, there's a good chance the team will be able to convince another NFL franchise to surrender a high draft pick in exchange for Kirk's services next offseason.
However, there's certainly the temptation to keep Cousins in the city of Washington D.C. to see if he can accomplish the unthinkable by overtaking Robert Griffin III as the Redskins' starter at quarterback next year.
Here's why the Redskins could resist the urge of dealing him by allowing him to stick around to compete with RGIII for the right to be the franchise's starting signal caller in 2014.
If Mike Shanahan stays, Kirk could as well
As a result of the team's losing ways, the popular opinion is that Mike Shanahan's head coaching days are numbered in Washington. However, due to the ironclad nature of Shanahan's contract which would ensure that he receives his salary if he's dismissed by team owner Dan Snyder, there's at least a puncher's chance that Shanahan could unexpectedly return for the 2014 season.
If Shanahan's back next year, he could be willing to keep Cousins around to compete with Griffin for the team's starting quarterback position. Giving Cousins the nod over RGIII would be a controversial decision, but Shanahan's already proven that he's not afraid of a little drama by deactivating a healthy Griffin and starting Cousins for the final three games of the 2013 campaign.
The Redskins could address their needs through free agency instead of the draft
Over the last couple of seasons, the Redskins have been forced to end their typical offseason free-spending ways due to the $36 million salary cap penalty that was imposed upon them by the NFL. With the penalty now behind them, the free agency floodgates will be opened once again due to the franchise having a ton of money to spend in 2014.
With their less-than-stellar 3-11 record and their top-five 2014 first-rounder resting comfortably in the hands of the elated St. Louis Rams, trading Cousins would allow the Redskins to recoup a high draft choice that could be utilized towards addressing one of the team's many needs outside of the quarterback position.
However, instead of dealing Cousins, the franchise's significant amount of cap room could serve as the primary means of bringing in badly-needed reinforcements. Under this scenario, Cousins would stick around and continue to serve as the Redskins' insurance policy at quarterback.
Cousins could surpass Griffin as the team's franchise signal caller
If he's able to stay healthy, there's little question that Robert Griffin III is the team's current and future answer at quarterback. However, with his recent struggles overcoming a torn ACL, it's fair to be at least a little skeptical of Griffin's ability to elude the grasps of the injury bug that always seems to bite him.
With Cousins, maybe the Redskins will decide to go with the talented young quarterback who doesn't have any injury concerns.
Although he lacks Griffin's athleticism and ability to serve as a dangerous dual threat, Cousins' firm grasp of playing the position from the pocket combined with his pinpoint accuracy could perhaps sway the Redskins to instill him in place of RGIII as the team's franchise signal caller for the foreseeable future.
So despite the alluring temptation of trading Cousins to the highest bidder next offseason, there's certainly a chance that for the reasons mentioned above, the Redskins could keep "Captain Kirk" around instead of dealing him.
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Drexel Perry is a Washington Redskins and Washington Wizards Yahoo Sports contributor. Follow him on Twitter @DrexelPerry.
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- Kirk Cousins
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- Mike Shanahan
- Robert Griffin III