The general consensus surrounding the Washington Redskins quarterback situation is that Kirk Cousins has done enough to earn a long-term contract as the team’s starter going forward. Team president Bruce Allen confirmed in an interview Wednesday with ESPN 980 that management is also on board, saying contract talks are underway. “Kirk wants to be a Washington Redskin, and we want Kirk to be a Redskin,” Allen said. “It’ll work itself out.”
As for the other quarterback on the roster not named Colt McCoy, Allen said he would get an opportunity to play elsewhere. Considering the season Cousins just had, throwing for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns, it makes sense that Washington would want to keep Cousins and move on from Robert Griffin III. Cousins brought stability and production to the most important position in football for a team that has been in flux at the position for decades, sans the Offensive Rookie of the Year performance by Griffin in 2012.
Rumors have been swirling about where Griffin could ultimately end up, Dallas often mentioned as the most likely, but it seems people are still high on Griffin’s potential to succeed again. The tough question people are avoiding, however, is whether Washington should be that place. Should the Redskins re-consider choosing Cousins over Griffin? Admittedly, it’s probably too late. The biggest argument against Griffin staying is that the relationship between he and the Redskins could be irreparable after he was unexpectedly demoted to third string prior to the season beginning. Keeping him would likely mean moving on from Jay Gruden and interrupting the chemistry of a team that rallied behind the creator of “You like that.” When you factor in Griffin’s ability to run, however, the ceiling for him is higher than that of Cousins.
Whether he maximizes on that potential only depends on if he can be a consistent passer and stay healthy. He once proved he can do the former, it’s the latter that concerns people the most. On the other hand, it can be argued that Cousins already hit his ceiling. In 2015, the 27 year old led the league in completion percentage at 69.8 percent, was fifth with a 101.6 passer rating, and reduced the turnovers that plagued him in the past. Yet, the rookie season of RGIII rivaled what Cousins did – if it wasn’t better. People expected Griffin to get better from that point. Not many people are saying Cousins will consistently be as good as he was down the stretch this season. In 2012, Griffin passed for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just five interceptions, on a 65.6 completion percentage. He added 815 yards and seven touchdowns running, and his 102.4 passer rating was slightly better than that of Cousins. Griffin did all that as a rookie.
Additionally, Griffin is coming off of a year in which he got to sit, learn, study, and most importantly heal. It’s not unreasonable to think he’ll be just fine as long as he lands in a situation where the coach believes in his abilities, and he actually opts to slide rather than take career-threatening hits.
Washington was put in a precarious position by Gruden at the start of this season where the future of the team depended on his decision to bench Griffin and play Cousins. Had the decision backfired, both Cousins and Gruden likely would’ve been out of a job and Griffin may have had the chance to play out the final year of his contract. After a shaky start, Cousins played well down the stretch and Gruden will benefit from that, but the pair together have yet to beat a team with a winning record.
Now, Washington runs the risk of dealing out a contract that ensures a few more years of mediocrity while Griffin goes elsewhere and potentially soars to the levels D.C. fans once believed he would reach for them. Due to how this season played out, Washington may feel it doesn’t have much choice but to go all-in with Cousins, but folding RGIII may be equivalent to folding a straight flush.