Agent's perspective: Redskins QB Kirk Cousins has all the leverage

INDIANAPOLIS -- The agent left little doubt how he views the negotiations between the Washington Redskins and Kirk Cousins.

“They’re in a good situation,” the agent said of Cousins and his agent, Mike McCartney.

With the salary cap increasing and the Redskins not having another concrete option, it’s tough to argue. Ultimately the Redskins likely will use the franchise tag to ensure that Cousins returns. The deadline for doing so is March 1, but talks will continue regarding a long-term deal.

The agent did not want to be named, but he was willing to share how he perceives the negotiations between the Redskins and Cousins:

On Cousins’ leverage: “It’s very hard to find starting quarterbacks so even though the team and negotiations are going to draw toward the fact that he’s only been a true starter for a year, he has limited experience to base a contract on ... Mike knows as well as the Redskins know, where else do you go? ... I don’t think you’re in a position where you’re willing to walk away from this guy with all his talent and potential because of a million or two million a year. It’s not enough money in the grand scheme of the NFL for them to not get what they want.”

On what he views as comparable deals: “The comps they’ll come back on are stuff like Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Tannehill. But the argument from my standpoint would be that Kirk brought stability to an unstable situation. Kaepernick was another piece to the pie. They were winning with everything around him and once that went away Kaepernick proved it wasn’t just him it was other things. They gave him a good contract that they could get out of. In the Tannehill situation, they invested in him and it will take time to get out of that contract. Kirk would be looking for the same thing only on a higher level. He led them to the playoffs. Regardless if it was him or Jordan Reed or Pierre Garcon or DeSean Jackson, the offensive line, the defense, there are a lot of things that played a role. But as you get the heat, you get the credit. He brought excitement to the town. People want him back. He gave them a sound bite with the ‘You like that’ stuff. He brought energy and did his thing. The league normally has the leverage 90 percent of the time. This is one time where it’s on the other foot. It’s not fun when the rabbit has the gun."

On the franchise tag's impact on negotiations: “It gives them the leverage. He’s in a great situation. They have no real ability to move up to get a quarterback high in the draft. There’s never a good quarterback in free agency -- why would anyone let a good QB go? Are you willing to take 20 million for the year? That’s the question. If he can take 20 million this year and perform like he did last year and come back to the table, now he’s made probably 120 million over six years. That’s the risk you play. But I don’t think 20 million is bad for a guy who’s unproven. They know that. But as long as you keep the pieces around him, they’ll have success. If Kirk comes out and is a franchise quarterback for the next 8-10 years, the RG III trade doesn’t look that bad anymore. There’s a lot of incentive for them to get this guy signed. But they would like to do it on their terms and squeak out of it if Kirk [struggles]. But you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. You have to be within reason. I think they’ll get something done in the $18-18.5 million range.”

On the Redskins’ leverage: “It’s a team game so I don’t even think that [not beating a team with a winning record in 2015] is something they’ll even talk about. The major thing I would push against if I was the team is that he’s not yet prepared to audible to the level we need him to to get that kind of money. Therefore we have to protect a little bit. If they feel strongly about him doing it, they pay him and if not they’ll leave some room. That’s what makes the difference between a good QB and an elite QB.

“[Redskins chief negotiator] Eric [Schaffer] is a very sharp guy. [Team president] Bruce Allen knows his game and he knows how hard it is to find someone of his caliber, even though there are some questions because of lack of play. I think they’ll ultimately come to terms because they know how hard it is.”