There are still two games left to be played, but we can start to project what will be one of the biggest conversations of the off-season: The Redskins quarterback position. It seems like a formality that Kirk Cousins is being showcased to increase his value in an off-season trade. Television broadcasters, league executives, and even Mike Shanahan have publicly weighed in on the potential return of draft picks in exchange for the second-year quarterback.
The reasons for trading Cousins are certainly logical. The Redskins have plenty of holes to fill on their roster and getting a couple draft picks in exchange for the backup quarterback would make the team stronger. Also, why not remove one of the countless distractions from the organization? I don’t think Rex Grossman as the backup would lead to any type of controversy (though who didn’t smile seeing #8 suited up again?). Lastly, the organization invested a lot to draft Robert Griffin III, so it can commit to him by trading away his only true competition on the roster. It would be a gesture that may give him the vote of confidence he needs.
I understand those reasons…I really do. The best-case scenario long-term is for Griffin to continue his development as a better pocket passer and bounce back with a strong third year. Going into this off-season healthy and humbled, I believe he has every opportunity in front of him to do just that. But what if he doesn’t? What if, at this time next year, we are still talking and writing about him holding the ball too long and missing open receivers? Or, even worse, what if Griffin has another injury or medical setback? The worst-case scenario is to trade Cousins for a couple picks and then realize around this time next year that Griffin isn’t the long-term solution at quarterback.
The Redskins drafted Cousins as an insurance policy at football’s most important position. I think maintaining that policy outweighs the benefits of cashing it in. Cousins is under contract for two more years and can be traded at any time, so there is no need to make a decision when the entire position is up in the air. The team is in the enviable position of having two promising prospects at the most important position in professional sports and it would be wise to give everyone another year to evaluate where things stand after 2014. If Griffin does prove that he’s the franchise quarterback, then Cousins can be traded next off-season. His value won’t have changed much, if at all, and the Redskins will have gotten one more year of using him as a safety net.
With two games to play, things can still shift. Maybe Cousins will struggle more against Dallas and New York which would make his trade value not worth making the move. Then again, maybe he’ll lead an upset over the hated Cowboys and end the season on a high note. Either way, the Redskins will have a decision to make this off-season. They need to play it safe at quarterback and keep both Griffin and Cousins for 2014.