Hours before Tuesday’s deadline for NFL teams to use the franchise tag on players, and with Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins expected to become a free agent after playing on the franchise tag for the past two years, Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall said he never got the sense that Cousins was interested in working out a deal that would have kept him in D.C. long-term.
“We kind of felt like the commitment wasn’t there from Kirk,” Hall said Tuesday on “SportsCenter” in the first of his multiple appearances as a guest analyst during a visit to ESPN headquarters. “We obviously wanted Kirk. We franchised him because we wanted him there. It was up to ownership and the front office to kind of work those numbers out. They couldn’t get the numbers worked out, so he signed franchise tags those two football seasons. Everybody in that locker room was behind Kirk, wanted him there, but we wanted to feel like he wanted to be there as well. Having played 14 years, I understand, ‘Let’s go get the money,’ but at some point there has to be mutual interest from both parties to want to get better collectively as a team. Paying Kirk probably the $30 million he’s going to get, we couldn’t do that and get better as a football team.”
During a subsequent appearance on “NFL Live,” Hall was asked if he thought Cousins’s uncertainty about his future in D.C. over the past two seasons affected his play.
“I don’t think it did,” Hall said. “Kirk’s never been a guy to take a lot of risks. He’s always been that safe, conservative-type of quarterback. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, but the reason I wanted to see Kirk Cousins get a long-term deal is because I wanted him to really play … not feeling like, ‘Man, if I throw a couple picks, am I still going to get the money I want, or are they going to sign me? They want me to prove it.’ It always felt like he had a little bit of a responsibility to be perfect.”
The 34-year-old Hall has yet to decide whether to play a 15th NFL season. If he transitions to an NFL front office role, something he’s expressed interest in doing, he could draw upon the lessons he experienced firsthand of how the Redskins botched Cousins’s contract situation after drafting him three rounds after Robert Griffin III in 2012. On Tuesday, Hall was already talking like a member of Washington’s front office.
“I think Kirk Cousins realized he was better than [Robert Griffin III] before the organization did,” Hall said when asked how we got to this point. “I think we took a little too much in realizing how good he was. Then when it was time to really pay him, we kind of said, ‘Hey, we want to see a little bit more.’ And we did that, and then his numbers kind of went up. Then we said, ‘Well, we still want to keep [our long-term offer] in this ballpark.’ And he wanted a little more, so we said, ‘All right, we’ll franchise you again.’ Finally, we just started getting a feeling as though, oh, maybe he really doesn’t want to be here. He wanted to kind of pick his own destination, I felt like.”
Hall was asked what gave him the sense that Cousins, who became expendable after the Redskins traded for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith during Super Bowl week, wanted to look elsewhere.
“I felt like some of the offers that we heard about — just being players in the locker room, you kind of hear whispers,” Hall said. “Some of the offers we felt like we heard, we were like, ‘Man, that’s a good deal. Why wouldn’t Kirk take it?’ So, we kind of did a lot of talking among ourselves, and it was just a feel. He never said anything. He never walked around like, ‘Man, why am I here?’ It was never anything like that. Kirk, from the moment he got in that locker room, he was nothing but a professional. He went about his business.”
If Hall were running an NFL franchise and his team was in good shape at every other position, he said he would break the bank for his soon-to-be-former teammate.
“If you’re just a quarterback away, you pay Kirk Cousins whatever he wants to get, because he will win for you,” Hall said.
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