In a move that may start the countdown clock on Kirk Cousins' departure, the Washington Redskins have landed a new backup quarterback.
Washington and former Texas standout Colt McCoy agreed to terms on a contract, though the team did not disclose salary information:
McCoy, 27, was in Redskins Park for a meeting with team officials Thursday. It is unclear what role the team promised him to get him to stick around and sign a contract on the spot, but odds are he would have left without some promise to compete for the primary backup role behind Robert Griffin III.
A 2010 third-round pick, McCoy spent his first three seasons with the Cleveland Browns before moving to San Francisco in 2013. Serving under Colin Kaepernick, McCoy threw only one pass and appeared in only four games. He has been mostly relegated to a clipboard-holding role in each of the last two seasons, and the 49ers made little effort to bring him back after trading for Blaine Gabbert.
While the first two years of McCoy's career proved he probably couldn't work as a starting quarterback in the NFL, he's been a smart, capable team player able to shift roles as needed.
The Redskins certainly have no plans on having him compete for a starting job. RGIII is entrenched under center, though his injury history does make it more likely McCoy will see playing time than in San Francisco. Griffin, the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, went through a nightmare second season as he struggled to regain his form following an ACL tear and was benched for the last three games.
More interesting than what McCoy's signing means for Griffin, though, is what it means for the future of the man who stepped in late in 2013.
Cousins, 25, has had a wildly variant first two seasons sitting behind Griffin. Replacing him in three games as a rookie, Cousins looked like his generation's answer to Matt Schaub. He completed 68.8 percent of his passes, had a quarterback rating of 101.6 and became the subject of trade fodder for teams looking to add a young signal-caller.
Griffin's knee injury put any plans Washington had in trading Cousins on hold, and the result was catastrophic to his value. The former Michigan State quarterback floundered in five games last season, ranking as the worst among the 45 signal-callers with at least 100 pass attempts in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric. His completion percentage dropped to 52.3, and his quarterback rating was cut almost in half.
Undaunted by his struggles, Cousins approached the Redskins to say he was open to a trade. Head coach Jay Gruden recently indicated to Mike Jones of The Washington Post that there were no current plans to move Cousins at this time:
No. no. nothing. We’re excited to have Kirk. You need two great quarterbacks on your team. you never know. The way Robert plays and the style he plays with you never know what can happen. Injuries are a part of the game. you need two excellent quarterbacks and we’re fortunate to have two of the better quarterbacks.
Ultimately, it's unclear whether McCoy will expedite Cousins' exit or work as a third quarterback. Washington carried three quarterbacks on its roster last season, with veteran Rex Grossman providing guidance to the young players. Grossman is currently a free agent, so McCoy may be moving into his role.
Gruden, in his first season taking over for Mike Shanahan, did carry three quarterbacks last season as the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals. With the Redskins coming off a troublesome 3-13 campaign, adding McCoy may merely be a security blanket, given his roster options are limited.
Until draft day comes and goes with Cousins still in the nation's capital, though, speculation about his future is unlikely to die down. McCoy's signing will only enliven those talks.
Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter: