It has been confirmed that the Redskins failed to get a long term deal done with Kirk Cousins before the deadline at 4pm ET passed earlier today. Furthermore, and to me actually more importantly, the Pittsburgh Steelers failed to sign Cousins’ fellow former Spartan Le’Veon Bell to a long term deal as well.
The failure to sign Cousins was accompanied by a release by the Redskins via their Twitter. Whilst the release could be seen as typical Redskins disfunction, and it demonstrates this disfunction purely in that Cousins does not want a long term deal, it is also in my opinion a valid action by the Redskins who are entitled to inform their fans about the current situation. It clarified that the team and Cousins wanted different things and quite frankly was an act motivated by the long term requirement to keep their fans on board rather than please a player who has clearly failed to make a long term commitment to their team.
The two sides were negotiating from entirely different positions with Cousins wanting to play year-to-year (and the reasons for this can and will be widely speculated on) and the team wanting to lock him up long term. This is not greedy by Cousins, for whatever reason he wants out and I would trust that he is justified in this. It’s not a great look for the Redskins, as they are revealing something that you would like to be confidential but at the same time is ultimately just fighting a narrative that the Redskins were not offering enough money, a narrative that has leaked out. NFL negotiations are never confidential, and in this situation it seems as if they are justified in revealing that they offered a fair long term offer. Next year Cousins could become a free agent or he could be tagged again. None of this is bad for Cousins and he should not be seen as a mercenary – he is earning his keep and treating an NFL organisation in the way that more NFL players probably wish that they could.
But onto Bell… For me, the most intriguing man who has been unsigned but it is also unsurprising. Both the Pittsburgh wage structure (excellently explained here), Bell’s age (even though he’s ONLY 25) and his off field issues mean that a long term deal has been elusive. Next year the 49ers have a lot of money at a time when the most talented running back in the NFL, a man perfect for Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, could well be available. The 49ers should sign him to two or three year, top of the market $28-30 million fully guaranteed contract (still saving money compared to what they would have paid Cousins and jumping ahead of other teams in the league) and sign a truly organisation-altering player. These are the types of guys who should get those guaranteed deals.