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  • Kirk Cousins turned down a long-term deal and has been franchise-tagged for the second year in a row, leading many to speculate that he’ll bolt from Washington and join the 49ers (and his old mentor, Kyle Shanahan) in 2018. But Washington may want to tag him yet again
  • Readers break down The MMQB’s All-Time Draft, sharing praise, critiques and even their own rosters to go up against our 12 GMs
By Peter King
July 19, 2017

In the News of the Week, the Panthers’ firing Dave Gettleman is another knee-jerker by an owner, Jerry Richardson, who used to not be so impetuous. The story there is developing, but the moral is this: As a GM, don’t have a losing season after making a hugely controversial decision like jettisoning a top cornerback, Josh Norman.

If Gettleman is story 1A, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins getting his second straight franchise tag is 1B. When he and Washington club officials could not reach a long-term deal by Monday’s deadline, it meant Cousins would have to play the 2017 season at the franchise-tag salary of $23.94 million, which he’s fine doing. Immediately the subject turned to 2018, and the (logical) perception that Washington would not franchise Cousins for a third year, at a cost of $34.47 million.

That’s where I say be careful of assuming anything in the Cousins deal.

I think it’s fair to note that San Francisco would be interested in signing Cousins in 2018, in part because the 49ers have a need at quarterback, in part because Washington has dragged its feet in getting a multiyear deal done for Cousins, and in part because it’s widely believed that Cousins and his former mentor early in his Washington career, Kyle Shanahan, would love to be reunited now that Shanahan is San Francisco’s head coach. But it’s not fair to say Washington absolutely won’t franchise Cousins again.

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.
David Banks/Getty Images

Do the math. The salary cap has been rising between $10 million and $13 million annually. It’s $167 million per team this year. Say it’s $180 million next year—and if it’s not that, it’ll be very close. Aside from the money Washington will pay Cousins this year, the team has $143 million to sign the other men on the roster. Next year, with an NFL cap of $180 million, and paying Cousins the franchise number, the team will have $145.5 million to spend on the rest of the roster.

You know, it’s easy to say, No player is worth $34 million a year in the NFL. Why? Who makes those pronouncements, exactly? I ask this question: If Cousins throws for 4,800 yards and 30 touchdowns this year—reasonable figures based on his recent history—would you jettison him and take a shot on a Colt McCoy (the current backup) or some other risky player playing near Cousins’s level in 2018?

I’ve already made the point that it’s not going to leave Washington bereft of money to sign the rest of the roster by paying a quarterback a record amount in 2018. I’m not saying they will franchise him again or they won’t; what I am saying is Washington president Bruce Allen understands that his team is going to pay all that money to players, and I can tell you he doesn’t have any mental rules about how he’s going to spend next year. He’ll be able to field a competitive team, to be sure, even if he pays Cousins what appears today to be an insane amount of money. More insane, I think, would be a club leader drawing a line in the sand because some figure seems outlandish. Contract numbers always do. But see how outlandish $34.5 million would seem in mid-2018, when the team is 3-6 and the new quarterback has the league’s 31st-best rating.

Now for your email, about The MMQB’s All-Time Draft . . .

• ALL-TIME DRAFT HUB: We assembled an all-star panel of 12 football experts for an intriguing—and wildly fun—experiment: an All-Time Draft, drawing from the pool of every player in pro football history

ADRIAN PETERSON, FOR ME

Absolutely loved this idea and the way you covered it. A couple items after reading it: Which undrafted player in this All-Time Draft was your most shocking snub? And any thought for talking to EA and having them put together an “All-Time Draft Special Edition”? It would be fun to see how those games might play out. Keep up the good work.

— Scott

Thanks. I’d say the biggest snub was probably Adrian Peterson. I never thought he wouldn’t be picked. But so many good running backs . . . and we could only pick 24 overall, plus a couple wild cards. I chose Darren Sproles as my 25th-round pick because I wanted a third-down back and a slithery weapon, and because I think he’s been terminally underrated over time. But I’ve had a lot of second thoughts about passing on Peterson to take Sproles. As for a video game: I really wanted that to happen, but there were player licensing issues on the EA side; and if we were to build the players ourselves we would have had to assign attributes to the many old-time guys who aren’t on Madden’s all-time teams, and that would be difficult and feel too arbitrary.

NFL
The MMQB All-Time Draft: Who Got Snubbed?

WE NEED TO LEARN FOOTBALL HISTORY

Great idea Peter. This draft incorporated the pure love of the game, history, talent and differing opinions from some great football minds. What it did not include was money, results from the combine, such as 40-yard-dash time, and so much of the hype—and thank you for that! This should drive great conversation (that has already started) about the history of the game and the players.

— Doug, Atlanta

I’ve always thought we should know more about Don Hutson, for instance. Did you know he won the SEC Track Championship 100-yard dash twice while at Alabama, and ran a 9.8-second 100-yard dash? And that his record of 99 touchdown receptions stood for 44 years after he retired, in 1945? I hope when people see this draft, they’ll do a few minutes of reading on the eighth (Hutson) and 10th (Otto Graham) players chosen—at least.

A COMMON THEME: CHOOSE ONLY RETIRED PLAYERS

For the first time in a long time I’ll be coming back to The MMQB to dig a bit deeper into one of your stories: the All-Time Draft. Like you said, a bit pointless but a lot of fun. Here are a couple of tips for running it again:

1. Choose only from retired players.

2. To bring out the historian in all drafters, force them to choose at least one player from every decade.

3. No, the commissioner cannot also be a drafter.

4. In a nod to something that I find a colossal waste of time—and wish you would stop covering in any way, shape or form (because it’s not actually a sport)—play a few fantasy “games” using the best game stats of the players on each team (also a nod to the history of the game, as that will take more than a bit of research).

— Mike

We heard from many of you saying this should have been retired players only . . . and that’s a point we never really considered. Maybe we should have. If we do it again one day, that will be a factor on the table for discussion.

NFL
The MMQB All-Time NFL Draft: The Ultimate Football Fantasy

ANOTHER GOOD IDEA

What a great premise for football fans. It would be great to see each of the participants all in a sports bar-type setting making and then defending their selections to their fellow GMs. The commentary and interactions would make for a great web series.

— Anthony Gribben

Wish I’d thought of that, Anthony.

BO JACKSON STUCK OUT

I would be curious if you (or anyone on your panel) see any mistakes, or picks you would have done differently, now that you’ve looked it over and saw how everyone picked their team?

— Jay T., Green Bay, Wis.

When Bo Jackson was taken in the 20th round, by Dan Fouts, a few guys on the conference call said, “NOOOO!’’ He was a guy several GMs wanted.

WHAT DID THE DRAFTEES THINK?

Appreciate this project! Love hearing from the likes of John Elway and Larry Fitzgerald. If you guys hear responses from other NFL pros, please tweet/MMQB them up for us.

— Mark, Toronto

Here’s one . . .

THE 190TH OVERALL PICK CHIMES IN

Humbled to be drafted by Bill Polian, reunited with Tony Dungy and playing with Jack Tatum and teammate/friend Champ Bailey. I’ll take that!

 

Lynch has always been a student of history. Cool that he responded.

SO WHO WINS?
 

Team Gosselin over Team Turney in the Super Bowl.

— Michael Kirk

Bussert’s defensive front seven (Bruce Smith, Ed Sprinkle, Randy White, Warren Sapp/Lawrence Taylor, Mike Singletary, Chris Hanburger) is absolutely incredible!

— John

My picks: Team King defense; what a bunch of hitters in the secondary (Troy Polamalu, Brian Dawkins, Lester Hayes). Team Turney offense. No one is going to stop them in today’s game. In the ’70s I’d go with the Team King defense and Team Fouts special teams. Thanks again for such a great article. I am going back to read about some of the old-timers that were included.

— Tom McManus, Gurnee, Ill.

GLARING OMISSIONS

Hard to argue with most of these picks, but as a Vikings fan since the early 1970s, I’m stunned to see three glaring omissions: Fran Tarkenton, Adrian Peterson and Bud Grant.

— Pasquale DiFulco

Why is Fran Tarkenton always slighted on these lists? When he retired, he held the career records for most passing yards, completions and TDs. The next time you do something like this draft, try to make sure one of the greatest (and most overlooked) QBs of all time gets his due.

— Jason

I guess I'm not completely surprised that Steve Young was not chosen, although I would have gone with him over Staubach, Aikman and Bradshaw.

— Andrew

JOE KLECKO DESERVES BETTER

I was happy to see Joe Klecko was picked, but I would certainly have gone with him higher. The guy made All-Pro at all three positions on the defensive line, and arguably defined how the nosetackle position should be played. When is this guy going to get into the Hall of Fame?

— Don Goess, San Antonio, Tex.

Gut feeling? 2022. Klecko’s day is coming.

FOUTS’S RAY GUY PICK

Ray Guy? What a waste of an interesting idea for an article.

— Matt Malone

This may be shallow and close-minded by me, but I stopped reading after the third sentence of your “AP article.” There is no way that any serious GM would select Ray Guy as the fourth overall pick of an All-Time NFL Draft. So this proved that one (if not more) of the GMs was using this as a way of making a statement, not a team. And if someone as intelligent as Fouts was going to do this, then I quickly assumed that the rest of the GMs would follow with their own agenda. It would have been very interesting to see who Dan Fouts felt was the fourth best player of all time to build a team around. I would have more respect for Fouts if he picked himself with the fourth overall pick.

— Bill Peel

You missed a good story.

WHAT ABOUT THIS ROSTER?

Love, love, love this concept! Such a great way to bridge the generational gaps and think about the greatest to ever play. Also, thanks for making me entirely unproductive this morning as I’ve built my own all-time team. I know you’ll get thousands of these entries, but here’s hoping you pick to share mine.

COACH: Jon Gruden
QB: Mike Vick (When “on” he was just unbelievable. Arguably the best athlete to ever play the position. In this all-time league, the QB is going to have to be able to run for his life. Vick may be one of the few ever who could avoid the LTs and Reggie Whites.)
RB: Jamaal Charles (The stats back it up; when healthy, he’s one of the greatest per-carry runners of all time. Explosive with the ball in his hands.)
RB: Adrian Peterson (Probably the biggest miss in the draft . . . I also thought about Doak Walker and Mike Alstott.)
WR: Lynn Swann (How is he not on a team?!?)
WR: Marvin Harrison (Incredible.)
TE: Jackie Smith (Hall of Famer. Best available)
T: Tyron Smith
T: Tony Boselli

G: Dick Barwegan
G: Jim Tyrer
C: Alex Wojciechowicz (Hall of Famer. Name looks great on a jersey.)
DE: Jared Allen (All-effort guy who turned himself into a great. His motor never stops.)
DE: Dwight Freeney (Will find a way to get to the ball.)
DT: William “The Refrigerator” Perry
DT: Richard Seymour
LB: Nick Buoniconti
LB: Sam Huff
LB: James Harrison (Would love to see his effort and workout videos when he is told that none of the other teams wanted him.)
CB: Ronde Barber
CB: Eric Allen
S: Eric Berry (The man beat cancer and gained 10 lbs. of muscle!!! Wouldn’t be afraid to go up against anyone. Would love to see him drop the hammer on some of the all-time greats.)
S: Kam Chancellor (Blocks field goals, gets the ball, not much he can't do.)
K/P: George Blanda (Fits both roles and can also be the backup QB.)
WC: Dante Hall (He will find a way to score and can also line up all over the field on offense. Can you imagine a Wildcat with Hall, Peterson, and Charles in the backfield and Vick split out wide?)
WC: Wes Welker (Return man, third-down conversion machine, great slot guy.)

So, that’s my team. Hopefully y’all like it enough to share it. I tried to think outside the box and think about how this team would matchup with the other all-time teams. As you can see, I went with athletes all over the field and guys who never stop grinding. Plus, I love the thought of “Chucky” himself working the game plans.

— Tyler Allen

Tyler, your all-time team shares a number of players, including the entire linebacking corps, with the “best undrafted” team drawn up by one of our editors, Mark Mravic, and posted on Tuesday.  

DR. Z WOULD HAVE LOVED THIS

Two questions (and wonder how many of your readers asked similar questions):

1) How much fun would it have been to be able to include Dr. Z in the draft process?

2) How often was Dr. Z in your head when making your selections?

Would have been so cool to see his picks! Bless him.

— Mark, Marshall, Texas

I thought of Paul Zimmerman when picking Bob Kuechenberg as my second guard. To the day Zim’s voice was silenced in 2008, he always presented an impassioned case for Kuechenberg to make the Hall of Fame.

GEE, THANKS

The All-Time NFL draft was incredibly cool. I spent about an hour reading, rereading, and opening several windows so I could do side-by-side comparisons. Man, Dr. Z would have gone bonkers for this! Don’t get me wrong, Mr. King. I love your work, but man . . . you have to admit, this has Dr. Z written all over it. That’s really a team and an article I think you and I can agree we would both like to see. Anyway, thank you so much for doing this. As a fan of the NFL and the written word, this was beyond a hoot! My only regret is that I did all of this at home on my day off and not at work. Thanks again, for this article and all the stuff you produce. There is still a place in this world for good written journalism. For those of us who enjoy it, articles like this are like Christmas, my birthday and a three-paycheck month all rolled into one!

— Tim

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let us know at talkback@themmqb.com

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