Here's where I'm at right now.
Last season Kirk occupied 13.64% of our cap space. He was being paid like an elite QB due to how the tag works.
With that chunk of space he was taking up, we were able to sign Hood, Gallette, Reyes, Bruton and Vernon Davis as well as hand out a gigantic contract to Josh Norman in FA. We also signed Jordan Reed to a sizable contract extension. We had very expensive talent all over the offense in DJax, Garçon and Trent Williams occupying significant cap space, too. We had Kerrigan on defense who was pretty expensive. We also had some fairly expensive talent in Lauvao, Lichtensteiger and DHall. We also weren't panicking at the QB position and investing high draft picks searching for one, either.
Oh, and we had a whopping 16.7 million dollars in dead cap money according to this site.
With all of that, we STILL had 15 million in cap space left over. 15 friggin million.
If you can't build a contender with those numbers along with the kind of performance you got out of your QB and offense, something is wrong with your FO. Not the QB. Not the percentage of cap space given to him. Not anything else.
This whole notion of "you're going to hurt the team if you pay him elite money" is crazy talk to me. Last season is proof enough. It's an excuse. No, you're not. You can re-sign who you want and go after who you want in FA. You can build an elite team around him even if you think he's just average, which is stupid in and of itself.
At the worst, he's a fixed variable, a known quantity you can move chess pieces around and don't have to worry about developing or what you have or don't have, etc... At best he continues to improve and moves from very good to elite.
There's nothing out there other than bull**** conjecture that Kirk and his agent are asking for more than anyone else ever in the history of the game or that they're holding the team hostage because he doesn't want to be here. The percentage of the cap they're asking for is almost certainly based on the tag, which is about 13%. That's what anyone with any knowledge of how these things play out has said. That means he's looking for about 22 at the lowest, 25 million per year at the most - dependent on how they view the cap space.
If they can't pay him that because they're afraid, or aren't convinced he's the guy, but are willing to tag him two years in a row to keep him for even more than that percentage, they are idiots. Never mind the fact that we can use the tag on other players and they're tying the use of it all up on him twice in a row and maybe even three times.
If the plan is to transition tag him and match an offer next season, they are idiots. They'd end up paying waaaaaay more than what market value was last year OR this year. If the plan is to let him walk for nothing, they are idiots. They'd have to invest significant resources in another QB (likely a high draft pick), or even two or three or four as the likelihood of finding even a decent one is at an incredibly small percentage, which completely flies in the face of the whole "use picks and that extra cap space to build elite defense" bull**** that's peddled.
And as others have said, including @Bang most recently, that means you're likely going to have a new Head Coach with a new coaching staff implementing a new system. Heading towards that road, with an organization that has only recently shown a willingness to have a solid hiring process with experts at their proper positions, is idiocy. At the highest levels.
This is why I just can't believe they're that stupid. I just can't. I'm not going to buy the speculation, conjecture, and click bait. The second they show me they're that stupid, I'll believe it. Until then? No way. I will not be swayed by a desperate media or panicky fanbase.
There is one extremely unlikely possibility that anything other than a LTD ends up well. That is if some team is dumb enough to blow us away with a trade - and I mean blow us away (like this year's first, plus next year's, and another pick as well) - and then give Gruden an extension because you're committing to another long term plan that's going to take time. Then maaaaaybe I'll get the rationale, but even then I'll be skeptical because of how important the QB position is and what we just saw from our trade with the Rams.