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Pasch Factor: Cousins And QB Stability
December 15, 2017 03:02 PM | Dave Pasch
When Washington drafted Kirk Cousins in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, many people were shocked because the Redskins already spent a high draft choice on a quarterback that year in Robert Griffin III.

In fact, Washington traded with the Rams to get the No. 2 pick, where they selected Griffin. Many suspected that Cousins was an insurance policy in case Griffin was to get injured. If that was the reason, then things worked out as expected, as Cousins ended up starting several games his first few seasons in the NFL because of injuries to Griffin. Eventually Cousins unseated Griffin as the permanent starter in D.C.

What followed became a historic NFL development.

Cousins signed a one-year franchise tag for $20 million. Before this season, Cousins signed another franchise tag, becoming the first quarterback ever to be franchise tagged in consecutive years. It's possible the Redskins could franchise tag Cousins a third time, but it would cost them $34 million, which would make him, by far, the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. Washington could also use the transition tag, but that would allow Cousins to seek a multi-year contract with another team.

Ultimately, this isn't as much about a business decision is it is a personnel decision. Is Cousins the best quarterback for the Redskins? Do they have another option if Cousins goes elsewhere? Cousins has yet to win a playoff game, but his regular-season numbers seem to indicate he should be the Redskins starter in 2018.

Colt McCoy is the current backup, and he has been less than spectacular in limited duty with three different franchises. Even if Washington were to draft a quarterback, it's a stretch to assume that player would be better than Cousins next season. Over the last three seasons as the Redskins starting quarterback, Cousins has thrown 76 touchdowns with 32 interceptions. He nearly threw for 5,000 yards last season, and will certainly reach 4,000 in 2017 for the third straight year. His quarterback rating has been right around 100 during that span, putting him near the top of the NFL. Cousins hasn't had a lot of help, either. Washington's defense ranks dead last in the NFL in points allowed. It would seem that despite the outrageous cost to keep Cousins, it might be what's best for the franchise.

The Cardinals may be facing a similar situation this offseason. It will be costly for Carson Palmer to be on the Cardinals roster in 2018, but perhaps much less than signing another quarterback via free agency. Palmer has had major injuries, and turns 38 at the end of the month, yet when healthy has played extremely well. Blaine Gabbert has shown flashes, but whether he should be the starter next season remains questionable. The Cardinals could look to draft or trade for a quarterback, like they did when the acquired Palmer. Still, there is no guarantee that the Cardinals will land the right replacement for Palmer through those avenues.

Of course, Palmer could just decide to retire. Or the Cardinals may decide not to bring him back and go in a different direction. The uncertain future at quarterback for both the Cardinals and Redskins is certainly an intriguing subplot to Sunday's game.

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