Kirk Cousins sought the NFL’s most lucrative contract in NFL history last spring. The Washington Redskins countered with hardball tactics by slapping him with a franchise tag for the second consecutive season and implicitly asked him to prove he was worth the investment. After a 7-9 campaign in 2017, the verdict remains nebulous as many soured on his upside and overall worth, despite a statistically appealing season.
On Thursday, former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan made a guest appearance on on 104.3 The Fan’s “Cecil and Pritchard” show in Denver and offered an evaluation of his former quarterback. While he wasn’t completely dismissive of the Redskins’ 29-year-old signal caller, he stopped short of labeling him a franchise cornerstone.
Via The Washington Post:
“He’s a good player,” McCloughan told Mike Pritchard and Cecil Lammey. “Is he special? I don’t see special. But also, we were still building a roster around him to make him special. Jay Gruden does a great job play-calling. [Former Redskins offensive coordinator-turned-Los Angeles Rams Coach] Sean McVay did a great job play-calling to put him in positions to be successful. He’s talented. Talent is good at quarterback in the NFL. He’s won games. I know his record overall is not over .500. I know he has 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 was talking to me. From the standpoint of the tangibles, they’re excellent. You just need to have some talent around him because you don’t want him to be throwing the ball 35 to 40 times to win the game. You want to have a running game, have a good defense, good [special] teams, and then let him do what he does.”
McCloughan’s comments echoed head coach Jay Gruden’s lukewarm summation of Cousins’ performance this season.
“When you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding,’” Gruden said. “Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns. So I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.”
In fact, McCloughan went further than most by implying the ‘Skins should spend their first-round pick on Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. He didn’t specifically mention cutting ties with Cousins, but that appears to be the inference. You don’t recommend a team draft a quarterback in the first round only to reward the returning starter with one of the NFL’s richest long-term deals.
“I was lucky enough to have been around [Brett] Favre, and I’ve gotten to know Baker pretty well just by watching him,” McCloughan said Thursday.
“He plays with strength throughout his body, and the fact that he’s just a football player — it’s impressive. It’s a really good class this year coming out in the draft for quarterbacks. But I know this, if I was going to play one game tomorrow, he’d be my guy — hands down.”
McCloughan doesn’t have a say in the Redskins’ offseason machinations anymore, but he’s touching on a sensitive nerve for Redskins fans. The path to contention is often paved by teams who either relied on young, promising skill-position players on team friendly rookie deals and built around them or MVP-caliber quarterback play. The Redskins would be neither if they back the Brink’s truck into Cousins’ yard and after an inconsistent 2017, there is a growing contingency of observers who agree with McCloughan’s stance.
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