Washington Redskins: Why Kirk Cousins Is Trade Bait

Scott FitzGerald@scott_iCorrespondent IMay 9, 2012

ASHBURN, VA - MAY 06: Robert Griffin III #10 and Kirk Cousins #12 of the Washington Redskins drop back to throw a pass during the Washington Redskins rookie minicamp on May 6, 2012 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

At this point in the offseason, all of the conversation surrounding the Washington Redskins should be about Robert Griffin III and how he will change the course of the franchise.

Instead we have to deal with people trying to drum up a false quarterback controversy. Anyone who sincerely believes that there is a QB competition between Kirk Cousins and RGIII must be suffering from what I refer to as "delusions of Cerrato."

If you actually believe that, you must be a Cowboys fan.

But more importantly, I take issue with the people who think that Cousins is not trade bait. There is a small group of people who believe that Cousins was brought in to D.C. to be the long-term answer at the backup QB position.

First, let us look at the organization's recent announcement that Cousins was the third best QB on its board. If that is truly how the team had graded Cousins, that is troubling. If Cousins was the next best after Andrew Luck (assuming the team had RGIII rated No. 1), why was he passed on 99 times before he was picked at No. 102?

It's not like the teams starting from pick No. 3 to No. 101 didn't have needs under center. Cousins had five other QBs selected ahead of him. The Miami Dolphins and the Cleveland Browns each selected a QB who will presumably go into Week 1 as the starter. Russell Wilson will be competing with Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson for snaps in Seattle where the starter and backup spots are up for grabs. 

Going further down the draft board, Brock Osweiler and Nick Foles were selected as insurance policies to be groomed to become future starters. If Peyton Manning gets hurt, the Denver Broncos will want Osweiler to step in and try to hold the fort while Manning recovers. But if Manning stays healthy, wins a Super Bowl in Denver and plays to the end of his contract, John Elway is going to want Osweiler to be their next franchise quarterback.

Nick Foles is going to fill the role of insurance policy for the oft-injured Michael Vick in Philadelphia. The Eagles were not happy with Vince Young as an emergency starter or heir apparent to Michael Vick. With the wear and tear that Vick takes during a game, you have to wonder how much longer he can hold up.

Those were five different teams that could all use a stellar prospect under center to step in and lead their franchise. If Kirk Cousins was really that good, wouldn't he have been selected earlier? Everyone drafted ahead of Cousins is going into camp competing to become the starter or is being groomed to one day become the starter. No one drafted ahead of him was drafted to be a career backup.

Next, we should consider teams that select the top overall QB prospect also selecting the third best overall prospect. Going back to the 1998 draft, at least one quarterback was selected in the first 20 picks. Since then, of the teams that drafted the first or second quarterback off the board, not one selected another QB in the same draft. 

This draft was the first time in 15 years that a team that selected either the best or second best prospect in the draft also drafted another quarterback. The Colts used the first and last picks of the 2012 NFL Draft on two very different signal-callers, and the 'Skins used a fourth rounder on Cousins.

Think of what would have happened if the Carolina Panthers selected Cam Newton No. 1 overall and then Blaine Gabbert fell to them in the fourth round. Or think about the St. Louis Rams taking Sam Bradford No. 1 overall and then drafting a rapidly free-falling Jimmy Clausen. What about the Detroit Lions choosing Matthew Stafford No.1 overall and having Josh Freeman fall into their laps?

Teams that have invested a No. 1 overall pick—let alone a first-round pick—on a franchise quarterback, at least in the last 15 years, haven't used another pick for a backup.

The only thing remotely close that you can compare this situation to is the Troy Aikman-Steve Walsh scenario back in 1989. But even that situation is a far cry from where the Redskins find themselves today. Aikman was the first overall pick in the draft, and newly hired head-coach Jimmy Johnson decided to forfeit a future first-round pick by selecting his former college QB Steve Walsh in the supplemental draft.

The 1989 Cowboys had a true competition at quarterback whereas Mike Shanahan has already declared RGIII the starter. Once it was clear that Aikman had beaten out Walsh for the starting job, the writing was on the wall for Walsh in Dallas. The following season, the Cowboys traded him to the Saints for a first and third-round pick in the upcoming draft plus a second-round pick in the following year's draft. 

This is Mike Shanahan's end game. Kirk Cousins will be paraded out in the preseason this year, and the coaching staff will have nothing but high-praise for him. The Cousins-for-starter-somewhere-else campaign is already underway. The second a QB-needy team comes calling to ask about Cousins, Shanahan will be raising the price for the fourth rounder out of Michigan State.

When you are 5-11 and you spend two future first-round picks to move up and draft your franchise QB, you need to reload your draft inventory. Whether it is trader's remorse for giving up so much for RGIII or Shanahan is trying to recoup some picks for when his contract is up, the Washington Redskins can and will use Kirk Cousins as trade bait.


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