49ers: Kirk Cousins Using leverage; Buyers Beware; How Clutch is He?

Niners Live comes to the forefront with outside the box and analytical thinking from a different perspective and delivers: Is Kirk Cousins using his relationship with Kyle Shanahan for leverage? Buyers Beware; How Clutch is He?


Niners Live has been all over this Kirk Cousins love affair, if you will, from day one when we dropped the mic on February 23, 2017, with: Is the Pursuit of Kirk Cousins Realistic? Or A Pipe Dream? You be the Judge. Cousins’ camp, as expected business wise, is using the fact that the 2017-18 market or lack thereof for quarterbacks has become a golden opportunity for a system quarterback, or above average to a good quarterback, to fully capitalize in the “supply-and-demand” market.

The domino effect? Teams are being taken advantage of, in particular the Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns, both the 49ers and Browns are expected to have roughly, give or take, a 100 million in cap space in 2018. These starving, heck, even desperate teams are scrambling for a functioning quarterback, let alone an above average to a good one, and are in effect, being held hostage. But hey, in this case, you can’t hate the player or his position for getting paid astronomical, record shattering numbers, can you?

Will the teams pay a king’s ransom for his services?

Cousins has bet on himself the last two years by playing on consecutive franchise tags that have netted him roughly $19.953 million in (2016) and now, heading into the (2017) season, $23.9 million (per www.spotrac.com). To say Cousins is in the driver’s seat moving forward is an understatement. See, after the season, the Redskins can place a transition tag on Cousins that would pay him $28 million guaranteed, with the Redskins having the right to match any offer on the table by any team, or $34.5 million under a third franchise tag (per ESPN.com), or they could let him become a free agent and walk for nothing, which seems highly unlikely.

Cousins is expected to command a contract somewhere around $30 million per year and close to $100 million dollars in guaranteed money in 2018 when Cousins will turn 29 years young (per www.cbssports.com).

Is he worth the Money? Obviously, the Redskins aren’t sold.

Cousins, in his two years as a full-time starter; (2015) and (2016), has amassed 9,083 yards, 54 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions to post a 99.3 passer rating, while completing 68.3 percent of his passes. Having the NFL’s third-best completion percentage, fourth in the NFL in passing yards, sixth in passer rating and 12th in touchdown passes to boot since the start of the 2015 season is nothing to sneeze at indeed. 

Note: Cousins led the Redskins to 17 wins during those two seasons, (critic voice weak division 9-7 record it took) to win the NFC East divisional crown in 2015. However, that didn’t carry over or equate to wins in the post season under Cousins’ watch when they got annihilated at the hands of the Green Bay Packers 38-18 while staring at a 0-1 record.

How would Cousins respond in 2016? 

Cousins had a chance to earn a playoff berth in the 2016 season finale. With pressure mounting and the stakes at their highest, Cousins’ team failed to muster up more than a measly 10 points against the Giants — sadly to say, the game ended in the worst fashion; Cousins was intercepted on a late-game winning, or tying, drive.

However, it really shouldn’t have had to come down to that. If Cousins and the Redskins had taken care of business prior to the last game of the season, then missing the playoffs wouldn’t have been an option or reality.

Unfortunately, in the Redskins’ last two home games — both ending in defeats — Cousins carved out a dismal total QBR of 49.6 against the Carolina Panthers. Going 2 for 12 on third down didn’t help matters either. His QBR was 19.9 versus the New York Giants, and Redskins cornerback and Cousins fellow teammate Josh Norman called their performance as a team, “Not Football.” In three of their final six games during crunch time, Cousins finished with a passer rating of less than 79.

If you are a Forty-Niner fan, please don’t confuse Cousins with Joe Montana or Steve Young or even Jeff Garcia, thanks.

Not a foregone conclusion, Cousins is going to end up being a 49er in 2018

Cousins recently reiterated that his first choice would be to remain in Washington long-term (via John Keim ESPN Staff Writer). During his paid appearance Tuesday on 106.7 The Fan, Cousins had this to say: “One narrative is if I don’t sign a deal this July, I won’t be here beyond this season,” Cousins told The Fan. “I don’t believe that to be true.” Cousins said if the Redskins put together a successful season, “Why would I want to look elsewhere?”

“Cousins said he knows he now must play well to justify a large salary from any team.”

“I would love to be with the Redskins long term,” he said. “That’s why I think that there’s still a lot of hope that next offseason, when the season ends, the Redskins are going to have I think about two months to be the exclusive team that I can talk with.”

Interesting facts to know 

Cousins, while being coached by Kyle Shanahan, only saw live action for a total of eight games, with four coming as a starter. Cousins accounted for a grand total of 1,320 passing yards, eight touchdowns, ten interceptions, and a completion percentage in (2012) of 68.8 and in (2013) of 52.3, respectively.

However, Cousins, under new L.A. Rams’ coach Sean McVay and then offensive coordinator of the Redskins from 2014-2016, accounted for 10,793 passing yards, 64 touchdowns, 32 interceptions in 38 games appeared in while starting 37 of those contests. His completion percentage? In 2014, 61.8; in 2015, 69.8 which led the league; and 2016, 67.0 via NFL.com.

It takes two to tango; Kirk Cousins using his relationship with Kyle Shanahan for leverage, or is it just smoke and mirrors? 

The narrative here is all about supply and demand. In fundamental business, you need a market/product ala….. Shortage of above average to good quarterbacks being available, or in this case unavailable; microphone, check one. Now secondly, you need another dance partner (operation leverage) willing to do the tango with you, no pun intended. Someone else, let’s say, that’s willing to spend and has a boatload of salary cap space/cash in 2018 and is desperate for anything they feel is close to a franchise quarterback through their lens and over values you, per say. In comes the San Francisco 49ers led by head coach Kyle Shanahan and his relationship/ties to Cousins; microphone, check two.

The chips and the deck are all stacked in Cousins’ favor. The funny thing is, the 49ers might feel their players at the table based on the familiarity between Cousins and Shanahan. However, Cousins’ table/team might see things a little differently, like staying in a comfort zone of a weaker division the NFC EAST as opposed to the NFC WEST.

Cousins has had great individual success having passed for close to 10k yards combined the last two seasons. Speaking of his NFC EAST division roll call, please; an aging (36 years young) Eli Manning, a Philadelphia Eagles team that Cousins is 4-0 against in the last two years and with the Dallas Cowboys always in turmoil and having recent issues with their star running back Ezekiel Elliott who’s also facing suspension (via www.yahoo.sports.com).  

Where would you go, or stay, if the money was equal? Or right? Would you want to face a Russell Wilson led Seattle Seahawks team two or three times a year when Wilson is young and just heading into his prime? 

I’ll leave you with this

Could it be possible that Cousins and his camp is using his relationship with Shanahan for leverage to force the Redskins to re-sign him to a long-term deal after the season? What do you think? He knows he has a guaranteed offer from the 49ers if he were to reach the open free agent market. So why wouldn’t he use that as a negotiation ploy or tool to stay with his first choice, as reported/stated early in this article, which is Washington? Now, are your eyes wide open?   

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.

As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners!

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus49ers.comESPN.comNFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Editor, Sequoia Sims.