Washington Redskins: Kirk Cousins Is RG3 Insurance, Future Baragaining Chip
After months spent dispelling any semblance of suspense from their draft plans, the Washington Redskins finally selected Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick in this year's draft. Three rounds later, the Redskins put some suspense back in their offseason by drafting yet another quarterback in Kirk Cousins.
Experts bemoan the potential for quarterback controversy, but closer inspection reveals forward thinking.
It is difficult to argue in favor of the move to draft Cousins given the needs along the offensive line and in the defensive secondary. However, the Redskins didn't draft Cousins for the simple luxury of having two rookie quarterbacks.
The Redskins drafted Cousins to push Griffin and show enough to catch the eyes of needy teams around the league.
One of the most talked about free agent moves, aside from the courting of Peyton Manning, was the fate of former Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn. Flynn's NFL film reel consists of 82 completions, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.
He earned a three-year, $26 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks based on the potential he showed in a six touchdown performance in the final game of the 2011-2012 regular season against the Detroit Lions.
It may be argued that Flynn's big performance was a fluke and that the Lions didn't really have much to play for at that point in the season. That might explain a great performance, but not the exceptional performance he turned in, even against the 11th worst pass defense in the NFL.
Flynn isn't the only backup that has earned a big deal based on his relief performances. Kevin Kolb received similar attention during the 2011 offseason.
Kolb appeared in 19 games with seven starts for the Philadelphia Eagles, producing 2,082 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Teams were apparently willing to forgive his inconsistency, evidenced by the offseason interest showed by Cleveland, Denver and Arizona.
Cousins, like Kolb and Flynn, will be viewed as a potential future starter in the NFL and the Redskins are looking to cash in on that potential.
The ESPN analysis crew, Trent Dilfer in particular, made a big deal about the creating of unnecessary quarterback controversy with the pick. It may have been a questionable pick from a need standpoint, but it doesn't take anything away from what the Redskins drafted Griffin to do for the franchise.
Mike Shanahan has a reputation for developing quarterbacks and perhaps Cousins is a pet project of his.
Worst-case scenario. Griffin struggles mightily or sustains an injury that puts Cousins in position to start ahead of fan favorite Rex Grossman. Cousins may struggle himself, but it would be expected from a fourth-rounder and teams would forgive him, especially considering the unpolished nature of the offense heading into the season.
Best-case scenario, Cousins has a good preseason showing and gets the chance to show his mettle in mop-up duty during the regular season.
In the event of the latter, the Redskins have the makings of serious trade bait in a league that is perpetually desperate for franchise quarterbacks. In the event of the former, the Redskins have a project passer with enough skill to hold the fort until the next franchise passer comes along.
Washington can't afford to miss the mark with Griffin, but Cousins gives them a temporary safety net should the unthinkable become a harsh reality.
Drafting Cousins, however questionable it may be in the face of so many other needs, is not a move that undermines Griffin as the future of the franchise. The Redskins gave up a lot for Griffin, and Cousins gives them a prospect that they can mold and potentially trade in an effort to recover picks in future drafts.
The Redskins are thinking long-term with their selection of both Griffin and Cousins, but the end-game with Cousins is recouping losses, not leading the team.
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