As he eased a hottakemobile through the ESPN car wash, former Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall questioned whether quarterback Kirk Cousins was committed to the team. The question isn’t whether Cousins was committed to Washington, the question is whether Washington was committed to Cousins.
And the answer is that Washington wasn’t.
When Cousins emerged as the starter in 2015, that was the moment to pounce. With games remaining in the regular season (and, in turn, the lingering risk of serious injury), an offer in the range of $17 million per year on a four-year extension could have done the trick.
Instead, Washington waited, opting instead to make an offer after the season that wasn’t nearly good enough, given that the alternative was the franchise tag, at $19.95 million for one year, or the open market. Once tagged, the formula became simple — two years of the tag, fully guaranteed at signing, as the starting point. Washington didn’t want to do it.
Instead, Washington waited — paying Cousins $19.95 million and tagging him again, at $23.94 million. At that point, Cousins wanted the franchise tag for 2017 plus the transition tag for 2018, an increase of only 20 percent (not 44 percent if franchise tagged) over the $23.94 million. Again, Washington didn’t want to do it.
While Washington was willing to make a pair of one-year commitments to Cousins, the team never did enough to make the kind of long-term commitment that Cousins gladly would have embraced. Apart from not giving him a contract that communicated to anyone/everyone that Cousins is the team’s leader, Washington showed plenty of ambivalence and disrespect to Cousins, privately musing about swapping him out for the much cheaper Colt McCoy and publicly calling him “Kurt,” which team president Bruce Allen did when talking to reporters last year.
Indeed, Hall’s comments sound a lot like the whispers that emanated from the front office over the last two years, as Washington justifying dating Cousins but never marrying him. Not that the breakup has arrived, it’s no surprise that Washington will sell its version of the events via the media. Who better to do that than a former player who is trying to break in to the media?