This is what’s missing from this entire conversation far too often. It’s not just about Kirk. This is as bad of an organizational failure as it gets. There are aspects of it that will linger no matter what happens, but if Kirk ends up elsewhere the damage is even greater.
I believe it was @Tsailand, last year, who even posted a compilation of posters saying the same thing right after the 2015 season. There was a bunch of us. That’s not to say we’re some geniuses with impeccable foresight, it’s quite the opposite. There were a bunch of us because it was friggin easy to see!
My view at the time was simple. Kirk was doing things at the QB position we hadn’t seen as Skins’ fans in a long, long time. It wasn’t gimmicky. There wasn’t any crazy athletic plays or much in the way of off schedule stuff, where you could question its sustainability. It was mostly on schedule, operating within the scheme (one that is tried and true at the pro level, wasn’t suddenly going to be “figured out”, and has concepts that apply to every offense ran in the NFL), and he was deciphering defense’s properly the vast majority of the time which then enabled him to nullify the pass rush since he’d get the ball out quickly.
To assume he’d fall off at that point and regress to bad enough levels not to warrant a long term deal was silly. There was enough tape on him. He didn’t come out of nowhere and teams had already went through a phase of figuring out what he likes to do, punishing him for it, and then he was able to overcome. The likeliest outcome was that he might regress a little bit (which wasn’t a slight, had he kept pace with those numbers the last month of 2015 it’d be Hall of Fame worthy), he might not, but there was an obvious floor you could see at that point. It didn’t take much foresight to recognize that.
But even IF you were legitimately worried he would severely regress, it wouldn’t change a thing because, to put it simply, the team’s two best shots at contention at that point, if that’s the goal, were:
1) Build a team around Kirk, who doesn’t regress and continues to improve as he had shown to that point, through the draft. Trust the coaches you hired who felt the same about him. Yes, it’s harder with an expensive QB contract on the books, but that’s why you hired Scot and finally recognized how important having top personnel guys running that side of things is. If he does regress...
2) Draft a QB (or two). Heck, do that with late round picks even if Kirk doesn’t regress. Continue to build through the draft. You could do this even with an expensive QB contract on the books since it’s likely the young QB will take time to develop anyway. If he doesn’t take time, great. Seahawks signed Matt Flynn to an expensive deal and then drafted Wilson. Cowboys had Romo’s expensive contract on the books when they hit on Prescott. A QB on a rookie deal emerging mitigates the other expensive contract.
To think that the potential cap space saved by not spending it on Kirk at the time (remember, that’s whatever money subtracted from the tag itself, so not much, maybe about 7-12 million a year in cap space) would be used on FAs of whom would be enough to put the team over the top was laughable. Especially knowing where our roster was. Furthermore, the people within the building get to see him everyday and should have a handle on whether or not he’d continue on the trajectory he was on. By all indications, his coaches felt he would.
So it was obvious to me that the worst possible outcome was to let him play on the tag. This isn’t hindsight. I just didn’t see how that was in the best interests of the FO. Since I believed the likeliest outcome was that he’d play at a similar level to 2015, then all it meant was that his cost would only shoot up. The risk of that was far greater than the risk of him severely regressing. Not to mention letting him flirt with the tempting idea of Unrestricted Free Agency.
When it actually happened, I was stunned. Shocked. Dismayed. But I went along with many here who argued it wasn’t that crazy. I allowed myself to
accept it with the one caveat that they’d better get it done the next offseason were it to make any sense (basically, be 100% sure Kirk’s 2015 wasn’t a fluke - as silly as I thought that was - at the cost of maybe $3-5 million more per year). Fine. I let my homerism take over.
Then we did the unimaginable, tagged him again, and let him play on it. Unbelievable. That’s $44 million now spent, money that could’ve been rolled over and/or used on our own soon to be FAs and/or other FAs, on a guy WE DEVELOPED for some other team to benefit from at the most important position in the NFL.
It’s simply maddening. It makes no sense. It’s so stupid, so damaging on an organizational level it’s mind numbing to think about. It goes against so many sound philosophies regarding football team building, like developing your own and building through the draft and having stability at QB, that it’s astounding. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT KIRK.
Look around the league, do you see players getting tagged because their respective FO “needs to see more”? That is utterly moronic! You use the tag on your best players. Guys you simply don’t want to even see getting near FA while you hopefully work out a deal. Not someone you’re unsure about. It is insanity to pay the average of the top 5 positional contracts to someone you’re “unsure” about, let alone at the most expensive position. And what the hell are you getting paid to do in the personnel department? Disgusting.
Just because it was a “unique situation”, which I’m not sure I buy considering these people had him in their building for years, doesn’t justify being indecisive to the detriment of the entire team.
They wanted their cake and to eat it, too. Cowardly stuff. If you don’t believe in the guy enough to sign him long term, let him go. Trust your assessment. But they were scared he’d succeed and they’d look like idiots. So, really, deep down, they actually DID believe in him long term. It would’ve taken two seconds of self-reflection to recognize that the reason you feared he’d go elsewhere and succeed is because you actually recognize his skill.
So they tag him to keep him from doing that. Not to win. Not to build a contender around him. But to keep him, in the moment, so that he wouldn’t make them look bad just in case. That’s their priority, and I don’t see how any other explanation makes sense. They
were indecisive because they believe they’re not good at what they’re doing. Scot had a little bit of foresight initially and they ignored him, because that’s what the top brass does. They undermine their own hires at the very thing they hired them to do. At least Scot recognizes they made a big mistake (notice how he makes sure to say “organizationally” every time) that offseason, whether it’s easy for him to say now or not since he’s not a part of it.
On a side note, I don’t know why we keep bringing up Scot now and how it was handled after that, because there’s so much we don’t know. There’s certainly plenty of evidence to suggest he was undermined pretty quickly, and likely more and more as time went on. It’s not as simple as “he wanted to trade Kirk in 2017”, because it could’ve been as a result of understanding that Bruce wouldn’t pay what it took and that the tag was idiocy in that case. There’s a lot of context missing here. Same is happening to Jay now. When you’ve got people above you making mistakes behind the scenes, while you operate on the surface, surprise surprise, you look like the mistake-prone fool. Guess who eats **** in the return department when the boss decides to change the policy to two weeks instead of a month? And you’ll likely make mistakes trying to mitigate those other mistakes. Especially if they then make you take on other roles you don’t or can’t excel at. Anyone who’s worked for bad people before will attest to this.
But I digress.
The reason you don’t see franchises applying the tag on QBs is because it’s super expensive and that’s the one position on the field you want to have stability at. It is the least “plug and play” position on the field, and is pretty much on the same level as coaching since it requires so much understanding of scheme and implementation of scheme, which takes time. It’s simply the antithesis to the idea of franchise tags, hence why you almost never see it applied to QBs. You use tags to bide time while you do everything you possibly can to sign him and/or ensure your stud player never hits FA. Not to “see more”. And not on the most expensive position in the friggin NFL. ABSOLUTE CRAZY SAUCE.
The moment you felt like you weren’t going to sign him to whatever amount you thought he was worth (they were wrong), you let him go and begin to develop someone else.
People say, “it’s just a one year deal, one year cap hit”, but that’s ignoring basic economic principles. The cap can roll over. It can be used elsewhere. To spend that much money on an asset, invest time in developing that asset, drive up its market, and then get nothing in return for it because you were just renting the entire time? Lol. You could’ve saved that money and used it on something that would benefit you long term when the opportunity arose, whether it did sooner or later.
I wonder if anyone here who’s okay with how the FO has handled this rents an apartment or whatever on a yearly lease. They should spend a ton of money remodeling and renovating that apartment while they’re in it. Fix everything at your own expense, too. Heck, don’t even let your renter’s insurance help if something goes wrong. Pay it right out of your own pocket. Same logic. Landlord will be happy, at least, when your lease expires and you go elsewhere.
So what do we do now? It boils down to two things, and one of them doesn’t make much sense as it stands:
1) Do whatever it takes to sign Kirk. Yes, it’ll probably take too much. Yes, it’ll likely hamper the team in terms of FA and retaining who they want. But you’ve already spent a crazy amount of money developing him and he’s good enough, and has shown that he keeps improving, to negate the fallacy of sunken cost. You hope that you hit on a draft just like the Saints did while Kirk continues to improve, making you an immediate contender.
2) You let him go and you go nuts in FA, building up a defense and stout running game that mitigates any likely issues at QB. You draft QBs when you can, don’t reach or trade up. If you’re stuck with one that sucks, oh well. Hope your team is strong enough to overcome it.
The problem with pulling off the second option? You want a great personnel department lead by someone who’s unquestionably qualified and has the authority to shape the roster as he’d like without unwarranted interference. Which we don’t have.
The other problem is we’ve got a Head Coach whose main strength is the passing game. Might as well save him the embarrassment and let him go if that’s the idea because he’s being set up to fail. Putting the position most vital to said strength in flux going into his fifth year is just a wonderful recipe for disaster. He might not think so himself, as he should be confident in his abilities, but he’ll be wrong while he should never be placed in a position like this. He’ll end up the target of enraged fans who continue to misplace their anger.
And that’s just it, isn’t it? Nothing we do is with rhyme and reason. With foresight. They set up those they hire to fail, minimizing their strengths and highlighting their weaknesses. There is no balancing act, no ability to provide support as necessary, ensure everyone is suited for their supporting roles and are enabled to excel at them.
The bigger issue? The rest of the league knows this. The only people who will come here are those who will demand major dollars, so their priorities will be off. The entire league is laughing at us about the Kirk situation, and it’ll only get louder if he goes elsewhere and we get nothing for it.
That’s why I don’t think number 2 should be on the table. It’s not just about Kirk. If we go with it then the likeliest outcome, in my mind, is that Jay will crash and burn to the delight of the idiots (and Jay has a ton of connections and respect around the league, so that’s another ding on Dan’s resumé). And you know how we do it as Redskins when our coaches crash and burn. It’s epic baby. Dan will pacify said idiots with a new and exciting HC who’s mainly in it for the money. Maybe we’ll be fortunate and Dan will finally structure the FO properly, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Even if he does, it’s unlikely we’ll get anyone truly qualified here. It’s going to take a while to overcome the perception around the league, if we ever do, something I thought was happening when we hired Scot two years ago. :/