Browns would be foolish to pursue quarterback Kirk Cousins

Oct 23, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Detroit won 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 23, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Detroit won 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Browns need to fix the quarterback issue, but pursuing Washington’s Kirk Cousins will do more harm than good now that he has been franchise tagged.

From  Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor to New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo, just about every possibility at quarterback this offseason has been linked to “fix” the Cleveland Browns quarterback issues. Go ahead and add Kirk Cousins name to that list.

According to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole earlier today, Cousins “would be open” to playing for teams other than the Washington Redskins (his current team) or the San Francisco 49ers (a rumored destination to reunite with head coach Kyle Shanahan), noting that the Cleveland Browns are “intriguing.”

Since that news, however, the Washington Redskins decided to place the exclusive franchise tag on Cousins and he reportedly does intend to sign it. The Redskins can still negotiate a longterm deal with Cousins until July 15. If no deal is struck by then, Cousins will play to the tune of $23.94 million in 2017.

This news however, does not mean that the Cleveland Browns or any other team for that matter is out of the running for the services of Cousins.

The Redskins own all negotiations rights to Cousins once he signs that exclusive franchise tag. The Redskins could still wheel and deal him for the right price if a teams shows interest, but Washington would likely have to allow Cousins to negotiate with a potential trade partner on a longterm deal before being traded. Let’s take a look at some background on Cousins’ current tour for Washington.

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Cousins and the Redskins seem to have come to another standstill this offseason when it comes to determining what the four-year veteran is worth, forcing the Redskins to use the franchise tag on Cousins once again. After having a good season statistical wise as a starter in 2015, Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins for the first time. Later that offseason, Washington offered him a contract that included $16 million per year and $24 million in guaranteed money after his one season as a full-time starter.

Cousins felt disrespected and decided to bet on himself and play under the franchise tag in 2016. Cousins ended up throwing for more yards in 2016, but had a worse completion percentage, a worse record, fewer touchdowns and more interceptions along with missing the playoffs after making them the year prior.

Cousins had believed has proven his worth and was reportedly seeking a contract north of $100 million this offseason, before eventually being tagged by the Redskins today.

Cousins has put up good numbers over his tenure as Washington’s starter, but there is only one stat that matters in this league – wins – and Cousins has gone 19-21-1.

The even more concerning stat is that Cousins isn’t beating “playoff caliber teams.” Cousins record against .500 teams is 5-13 and that number drops to 2-11 when he is facing teams with nine or more wins.

Last season Cousins also had one of best receiving units in the NFL and the seventh best offensive line (according to Pro Football Focus). Another concerning stat regarding Cousins is his touchdown to interception ratio. In his first season as a starter, Cousins was ranked 15th with a 2.6 ratio. That number dropped in 2016, with a better offensive unit, to 2.1.

So the one question still remains, if you are the Cleveland Browns, do you offer a trade to the Washington Redskins for Kirk Cousins? The answer is no. Taking on a quarterback who played with one of the best offensive units in the league last year, couldn’t take them to the playoffs, who doesn’t have a winning record as a starter, who’s demanding near north of $100 million and his own franchise is still unsure on whether or not he is a franchise quarterback by tagging him two years in a row? Yeah, let’s pass on that headache.

Next: Browns place second-round tender on Isaiah Crowell

The Cleveland Browns have around $108 million in salary cap space and a basket full of draft picks this offseason with many other needs to address outside of the quarterback position. The Browns should use that money and those draft picks in other places, rather than overpay for a quarterback who can’t carry a team with as many weapons as Washington.