Some Redskins fans complained in recent days that the Washington sports media consensus has been too critical of Bruce Allen for his statement Monday afternoon, and thus too sympathetic to Kirk Cousins’s case. (Really.)
These fans — and I think they’re a minority, but who can really say — ask why Cousins’s side never made a counter-offer to the team. They ask whether Cousins is really good enough to merit the sort of massive contract that seems to be in his future. And they wonder what’s so bad about the team publicly explaining its behavior. (Really.)
This, obviously, has not been the prevailing media narrative — not in Washington, and not around the league. The prevailing narrative is that the team’s public airing of negotiations was bizarre and counterproductive, serving only to turn public opinion against the starting quarterback. But if you want to hear a local voice expressing an alternate narrative, you might have enjoyed Chris Cooley, reacting to the news Tuesday morning on ESPN 980.
For example, Cooley repeatedly disagreed with the notion that Allen’s public statement was an affront to Cousins.
“Listen, it’s a blunt statement and it’s an honest statement,” Cooley said. “And if you think that that’s weak, that that’s an attack on Kirk Cousins, I think you’re crazy. It wasn’t meant to do that. It was meant to show Redskins fans that — in good faith — they’ve tried to negotiate a contract with their quarterback. Now, if it slights Kirk Cousins to some extent, then it does. But I promise you this: Kirk Cousins knew that this was going to happen.”
Cousins, indeed, later said on 106.7 the Fan that he knew a statement along those lines was coming. And Cooley later praised Allen for going on the record, even if that isn’t the NFL norm.
“And oh, by the way, I’d much rather have the statement from Bruce Allen than some leak from somewhere,” Cooley said. “Some leak from somewhere that says ‘Well, this was the offer, per sources of the Redskins.’ Good God that’s weak, and I’m sick of that. I’m sick of hearing ‘Sources say that. …’ If you want to say it, say it. And they had the balls to say it. And oh, by the way, Kirk had the balls to not respond. And to some extent, I’ve got to give him credit, because it takes some big balls to not come back and counter that offer.”
Cooley wasn’t uncritical of the team; he said the Redskins were wrong not to have accepted a reasonable offer from the Cousins side last offseason, that “we know they were wrong, they should have accepted Kirk’s offer last year as it stood.” But he also argued repeatedly that Cousins’s side should have made a counter this year to the unremarkable offer Allen detailed.
“Why they hell didn’t they counter?” Cooley asked. “And by the way, I’m not even going to say anything about Kirk Cousins, because I don’t think it was Kirk Cousins. I think Kirk Cousins has fully embraced that he’s gonna trust [agent Mike McCartney] in his entirety, and he’s gonna move forward with that. I don’t even think it was a Kirk Cousins decision. I think [McCartney] said until they get to said number, we’re not countering. I would have countered. … ”
“I don’t even think it’s Kirk,” Cooley said. “Now he could have made the decision to pull the trigger, he knew the offer. But he’s trusting the agent and that’s how he’s taken this on the entire time, so I’m not mad at Kirk. … If you believe that your client’s worth over 90 million dollars, you’re crazy. … I know you try to do contracts to project the future, but at this point, the projection is your client is worth [more than $70 million], and if you got him into the low 80s, hell yeah, good for you. You’ve got to counter 72. You absolutely have to counter 72.”
By $72 million, Cooley was referring to what the team said was its total guarantee in case of injury. Cooley called that amount of money “a counterable offer.”
“My opinion is that that offer absolutely should have been countered,” Cooley said. “There should have been a formal response.”
Okay, you want one more counter-prevailing argument? Cooley had nice things to say about Allen.
“I know Bruce Allen very well,” he said. “I’ve negotiated a contract with Bruce Allen. I have people that I know that have negotiated with Bruce Allen. He is fair. He is not dishonest and he is very blunt. … He is not a dishonest person. So where I’m going with this is he’s been talking with Kirk Cousins. That’s been news. Bruce Allen and Kirk Cousins have sat down and talked, they’ve texted back and forth with each other. Bruce Allen told Kirk Cousins — this is my assumption, by the way — Bruce Allen I’m assuming sat down and told Kirk Cousins ‘I’m going to have to say we offered you something, and I’m going to have to say we gave you a good offer.’ ”
Cousins, indeed, later confirmed that Allen told him something along those lines.
“He communicated with me that they were going to need to let the story be known as to where they were coming from, and I said I totally understand that,” Cousins said on the “Grant and Danny” program. “So that’s why I say the communication was positive, we’re all on the same page. That [release] or that statement was no surprise to me. I knew something like that was going to be coming out and I understand where he’s coming from.”
Will Cooley’s version of events be accepted or endorsed by most Redskins fans? Again, I don’t think so. But I do think fans are less unanimously critical of the front office’s approach than are media members.