Does Washington coach Jay Gruden desperately want the team to spend whatever it will take to retain free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins this offseason? It sounds more like Gruden would be fine with having Cousins around but not overly disappointed if some other team out-bids them for Cousins’ services.
Gruden was asked to sum up Cousins’ season, and he answered, “I’m still in that evaluation process.”
That’s a bit of an odd statement. The season is over and Gruden has watched Cousins all year, not to mention last year, the year before that and the year before that. At this point, Gruden would seem to know what he has in Cousins.
So what does he have? Gruden noted both that Cousins played well and that he didn’t play enough to elevate the whole team during a challenging 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.”
So now the question is this: How much is Washington willing to pay a quarterback who is “very good” but not good enough to elevate them above 7-9? And if they invest more money in Cousins, how will they afford to improve elsewhere on the roster while still fitting under the league’s salary cap? And if they don’t pay Cousins, who will be their starting quarterback in 2018? Those won’t be easy questions to answer.