NFL free agency is fully underway and although we are only a few days into the new season, the landscape is already changing. Big trades and free-agent moves appear to be happening by the moment and most teams appear to be in a "win now" mode.
For the Washington Redskins, this offseason has been less frantic than others thanks in large part to the second half of a $36 million salary cap penalty. With $18 million removed from this year's books, the Redskins have been forced to lose notable veterans like Lorenzo Alexander and DeAngelo Hall. To curb some of the bleeding, the Redskins have signed players like Jeremy Trueblood as stop gaps for the upcoming season.
With little cap space and no first-round pick for the next two years, the Redskins will be forced to make do with limited resources. In an effort to ease some of this pain, the idea is circling to trade the Redskins' most valuable backup: Kirk Cousins. While Cousins is not the team's franchise quarterback, this is a stock the Redskins cannot afford to dump early.
Kirk Cousins represents a tremendous value that the Redskins were crucified for investing in last April. Analysts from across the spectrum admonished Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan for investing a fourth-round pick in Cousins after spending a king's ransom on acquiring Robert Griffin III. Allen and Shanahan were criticized for not addressing other team needs and filling a potentially useless roster spot.
Fast forward to the 2012 regular season, Robert Griffin III is taking brutal hits and is forced to leave the game as early as Week 4. Cousins proved on several occasions that he is more than capable of stepping in at a moment's notice and delivering serviceable quarterback play.
Obviously, the Washington offense does not run the same way with Cousins under center, as he is not able to run the read-option. Despite this offset, Cousins delivered reliable, and at times, great poise and play for the Redskins. One needs look no further than the Week 15 win against the Cleveland Browns, where Cousins started and delivered a necessary win that helped propel the Redskins into the postseason.
In the wake of the ludicrous Kevin Kolb trade from years past, fans and analysts are looking for the next backup quarterback, with limited experience, that can be traded for top dollar. That trade is not happening again any time soon friends and if for no other reason than the Kolb trade. Teams watched and learned as Arizona invested premium resources (picks, players and capital) in a quarterback who was unable to succeed.
Even if a quarterback starved market, like today's, demanded a player like Cousins, the Redskins derive more value from keeping him. The former Michigan State standout provides a necessary insurance policy to the team's best weapon. RGIII is phenomenal, but the blindside shots and late hits will continue next season, and the Redskins' hopes cannot be tied to any one player.
What would be the minimum compensation you would be willing to accept for Cousins?
Cousins is a bargain basement life insurance policy that has the potential to pay out ten fold and now is not the time to cash in. Trading Cousins now would be short selling a dynamic stock.
In 2013, the Redskins will be relying on RGIII to produce at and above his rookie levels, but they will also be depending on Cousins. Cousins has the unenviable task of preparing for a prom he may never get invited to. As a backup, he will need to prepare like a starter, with less reps, and no promise of a starting job.
RGIII"s athletic ability makes him a lethal weapon but also a ticking time bomb. Cousins is the necessary counterpoint for the Redskins that allows the team to have hope when RGIII goes down. Without Cousins, the Redskins are one DeMarcus Ware hit away from losing their season.
This is not to say that Cousins should never be traded, but now is certainly not the time. Cousins is a cheap investment with tremendous upside, and the Redskins should do everything they can to milk that cow dry.
By holding onto Cousins, the Redskins can improve their postseason chances and increase the value of their asset. Another season in the NFL will only serve to improve Cousins' value and allow the Redskins to possibly seek value from the market in the future. Trading away Cousins now would be cashing out before the stock soars; we all just need to be patient.