ASHBURN, Virginia -- Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins' future continues to be a topic. There’s nothing that can be done until the season ends. And even then the story might continue for months -- or longer. Still, there’s interest and that leads us to this week’s mailbag.
#jkmailbag A friend posed the theory that the Niners traded for Jimmy G, just so Shanny can trade him for Cousins. The more I think about it, the more I could see it (happening, not being a good idea). Any chance you see that happening?— Ryan Stiles (@rstiles82) November 10, 2017
John Keim: Oh, man, someone wants to make my head explode. I should rate some questions by the number of ibuprofen it causes me to take. This is a four-Advil query.
But quarterback, as you know, has been a big topic this week -- and for the past several hundred -- in Washington. And this question is sort of intriguing.
It certainly would be a blockbuster move and if the Redskins are going to let Cousins walk, my hunch is that they’ll make some sort of splash -- whether through free agency, a trade or in the draft. Some of that, too, depends on how the team ends up this season and how Cousins himself finishes. If he plays well and they make the playoffs? Look for a tag. But if they let him walk, I could see them doing something they can sell to the fan base to generate excitement.
But I stress: They like Colt McCoy quite a bit and the question last offseason before making an offer to Cousins centered on how much more the latter was worth. Clearly, they value Cousins as they should. The difference has been how much they value -- or are willing to “value” -- him.
So that leads to alternatives. And that leads to Jimmy Garoppolo. I have a hard time believing the 49ers would trade him after the season. Adam Schefter reported it wasn’t a given that a long-term deal would be struck, and if that’s the case then, sure, the 49ers could trade him. They could possibly get more than the second-round pick they gave to New England for him. Anything can happen; but I know the 49ers really liked him long before this trade. I also know one reason they traded for him was the belief that Washington would retain Cousins somehow (likely on the tag). It’s hard to believe the Redskins would send Cousins to San Francisco and reunite him with Kyle Shanahan.
But the 49ers are big on having options, and if they’re not impressed with Garoppolo after he finally plays, or if he doesn’t want to sign there, they can pivot in different directions. Let’s play a hypothetical and say Cousins is allowed to hit unrestricted free agency. If the 49ers aren’t sold on Garoppolo (or think he’ll take longer than desired to develop), then they could trade him and sign Cousins.
If the Redskins tag Cousins, the 49ers could do the same and that’s where you’d get trade talk.
I do have a tough time seeing a one-for-one swap. I don’t know what the Redskins truly think of Garoppolo because he just hasn’t been a realistic option. They know they can control Cousins for another year with a franchise tag (or transition tag). Because of McCoy, they could draft a quarterback. A trade, though, would have to be considered, especially if they really like a guy. But with Garoppolo, what if he doesn’t play well? What’s his value? Would it be a straight swap? Or which side should get more -- the one trading the more proven commodity (Cousins) or the one with possibly a higher upside (Garoppolo)?
Also, both teams would need to work out long-term deals before any trade; I’d say the 49ers would prefer Garoppolo under a franchise tag of $23.9 million rather than Cousins at $34.4 million. But it's well-known that Shanahan remains a big fan of Cousins.
I’d bet Garoppolo ends up with the 49ers long term. And if he doesn’t, and it’s because he was really bad (not just because of the talent around him either), if you’re the Redskins would you really make that deal? I wouldn’t. And, I'd also bet (though not a lot) that the Redskins use a tag to keep Cousins around.
But, because both situations are fluid, it’s worth wondering.
Pass the Advil.