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Sam’s Film Room: Kirk Cousins should be paid like a top-5 QB

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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Prior to his 2015 breakout season, Kirk Cousins was a relatively unknown commodity. His previous seasons with the Washington Redskins included playing behind former 2nd overall pick Robert Griffin III, while also getting benched in favor of veteran Colt McCoy. It was not until the Redskins’ victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7 of the 2015 season and the “You Like That” catch phrase was born that people started taking Cousins seriously as a franchise quarterback.

Well ... semi-seriously.

While the 2016 season started poorly in a primetime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cousins has kept improving from his mistakes and has proven that he deserves a long-term contract extension next off-season.

In this video breakdown, I analyzed Kirk Cousins’ 449-yard, 3-touchdown performance versus the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

Cousins is on pace for over 5,100 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, a mark that has only been achieved by Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady before this season:

Kirk Cousins Stats

Currently, Kirk Cousins is only 47 yards behind Brees for the NFL lead. While Cousins hasn’t throw more than 30 touchdowns before, he fits exactly what Jay Gruden and Sean McVay want in their quarterback of the future.

By rule, Washington can’t officially negotiate a long-term deal until the offseason since Cousins is on the team’s franchise tag. Even if they can’t get a deal done next year, they have already indicated that they’d be willing to use the franchise tag on him once again, worth $23.9 million to retain his services for the 2017 season so he doesn’t become a free agent.

And make no mistake: If able to test the market, he’d be the biggest free agent since Manning in 2012.

The Redskins seem to have a bright future ahead of them with ex-Seahawks’ senior player executive Scot McCloughan running the show as GM. With Seattle sitting in the 2 seed in the NFC, there is a chance the two teams will meet in the playoffs as Washington currently holds the 6 seed and could surprise some people in January. It should be a great rematch as the Seahawks have knocked the Redskins out of the playoffs in three of their last four trips to the postseason.

There are some other interesting links between Cousins and Seattle:

  • The Seahawks opted to take Russell Wilson in the 2012 draft ahead of Cousins, who Washington picked 27 picks later.
  • Cousins’ Michigan State team beat Wilson’s Wisconsin team in a 2011 thriller that ended 37-31 after Cousins threw a controversial 44-yard Hail Mary to win the game. The loss essentially ended the Badgers national championship hopes, though they lost the following week to Ohio State. They got revenge though, beating the Spartans in the Big Ten championship 42-39 and advancing to the Rose Bowl, where they lost to Oregon. Michigan State squandered the win and the top-10 ranking by losing to Nebraska the next week with an awful game by Cousins.
  • Any contract extension for Cousins could have effects on a future contract extension for Wilson.
  • Cousins replaced RGIII in the 2012 playoff loss to Seattle, going 3-of-10 for 31 yards. He went 21-of-36 for 283 yards and two touchdowns in a regular season 27-17 loss to the Seahawks in 2014.
  • Cousins last 21 regular season starts: 43 TD, 10 INT, passer rating of 108.8, 70% completions, 8.4 Y/A.