Quarterbacks with the most to prove in 2016: Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins is the fifth quarterback to be the target of his team’s franchise tag in the past 10 years. The other four: 2009 Matt Cassel, 2011 Peyton Manning, 2011 Michael Vick and 2012 Drew Brees. Only Cassel entered that off-season with a shorter track record of success than Cousins, and even he received a long-term extension to avoid playing under the tag by Week 1, just as Vick, Brees and Manning did. The Redskins will likely do the same by training camp, but that doesn’t make 2016 any less critical for Cousins. Jordan Reed proved his worth as a gamebreaker last season, and the combination of DeSean Jackson and rookie Josh Doctson will open up every inch of the field to a quarterback who can get the ball to every inch of the field. If Cousins doesn’t get results, the aw-shucks charm of his rise to fame in 2015 will fade fast among a fan base well-versed in the impermanence of competent quarterback play. It’s notable that only Brees still has a chance to live out his extension with the team that tagged him.