Washington Redskins Should Be Stubborn When It Comes to Kirk Cousins

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistFebruary 4, 2014

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Washington Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins is "open" to being traded, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. And that is both unsurprising and understandable, because Cousins is probably one of the 32 best quarterbacks in a 32-team league. 

The Redskins wouldn't mind seeing a good guy like Cousins succeed as a starter elsewhere, but the reality is that the front office has to do what's best for the team. And while Cousins' value has probably increased in the two years since he was drafted in the fourth round, he might be in limbo with this organization for at least another year or two. 

What I mean by that is he hasn't been good enough to earn the 'Skins an exceptionally high draft pick in a trade, but he's been just good enough that they truly value him as a backup to Robert Griffin III

Considering the fact Griffin is only a year removed from reconstructive knee surgery and that the 23-year-old franchise quarterback plays on the edge in terms of his potential exposure to more injuries, Washington would be insane to give Cousins away right now for anything but a first-round selection. 

Backups who became starters after being traded, since '98
Kevin KolbEagles to Cards2011Only 14 starts in 2 years, gone.
Matt CasselPatriots to Chiefs200978 rating in KC, now gone.
Matt SchaubFalcons to Texans2007Quality starter for 7 years.
Matt HasselbeckPack to Seattle2001Quality starter for 10 years.
Rob JohnsonJags to Bills1998Only 26 starts in 4 years.
Pro Football Reference

One executive told ESPN's John Keim that somebody might be willing to part with a second- or third-round pick in exchange for the Michigan State product, but that's probably the ceiling when you consider the accuracy issues that have plagued him thus far. 

Cousins posted a dismal 58.4 passer rating in relief of Griffin this past December, whichif he qualifiedwould have ranked dead last in the NFL by a huge margin. He also tossed seven interceptions on only 155 pass attempts. That was a small sample size, and it counterbalanced some very solid performances during his rookie campaign, but nobody will be desperate enough to give the 'Skins what they should require in return based on his 2013 performance.

Kirk Cousins, 2012 vs. 2013
Pro Football Reference

The price should be steep regardless of those numbers, though, or Bruce Allen and Co. should be prepared to tell any potential trade partners to take a hike. 

Again, Cousins would be willing to move elsewhere. He knows that Griffin is new head coach Jay Gruden's guy for at least a couple years to come. They've invested too deeply in Griffin. That repaired right knee held up despite a barrage of contact in 2013, and it should be even stronger next year. 

But Cousins' rookie contract with Washington expires in two years. No sweat. He's 25 now, but quarterbacks can last into their late-30s nowadays. And hell, as Aaron Rodgers showed us half a decade ago, a few years on the bench can sometimes do a lot more good than harm. Being forced to spend the first four years of your career as a backup is no longer a football death sentence, at least if you're a quarterback. 

I think Cousins knows that, which is why this wasn't a "trade demand" or a "trade request." Instead, he was stating the obvious. He knows his potential is stunted a bit in D.C., but he's never been known as the type of player who would cause problems. He can wait, and unless they're floored by an offer, the Redskins have to make him do exactly that. 

Two years from now, when Griffin has either flourished or busted and Cousins has probably had a few more (hopefully short) opportunities to make his mark, you make decisions regarding both players' future. 

But right now, you make a team bleed to wrestle Cousins away from you. And based on his play thus far in his career, nobody is likely willing to sacrifice what it would be worth for the 'Skins to give up on their most important insurance policy.