Please stop trading Kirk Cousins

April, 5, 2013
4/05/13
4:31
PM ET
I'm still getting Twitter questions about whether the Washington Redskins will trade quarterback Kirk Cousins. Things on this front ramped up this week once Mike Greenberg started talking about it on "Mike & Mike in the Morning," wondering if the Redskins' signing of Pat White might make Cousins expendable since White theoretically appears to profile as a better replacement for Robert Griffin III than Cousins does.

[+] EnlargeKirk Cousins
David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Kirk Cousins is more valuable to the Redskins on their roster than as a trade chip.
The thing is, no.

First off, White hasn't played in the NFL since 2009 and barely played then. Just because he was a running quarterback in college doesn't mean he can do what Griffin can do, and if he could, he'd have been playing for someone for at least part of the past three years. The Redskins signed White as a camp body who might (read: if he can actually play) help them run more read-option stuff than Cousins can, just to keep that alive as part of the playbook. He's no threat to Cousins' status as the Redskins' starter while Griffin continues his recovery from knee surgery.

As for Cousins himself, I understand Mike Greenberg's point, especially since he's an unabashed Jets fan who's desperate for help for his team at quarterback. And I understand the larger point, which is that quarterbacks are in demand around the league and the Redskins surely could get more for Cousins right now than the fourth-round pick they used last year to draft him. But when you look at this from the Redskins' perspective, it makes no sense at all to trade Cousins.

What Cousins is, right now, for the Redskins is their starting quarterback. They don't know whether Griffin will be back in time for Week 1, Week 6, Week 10 or any week of the 2013 season. Until Griffin is back and cleared to play, Cousins is the Redskins' starting quarterback. Teams don't tend to trade their starting quarterbacks.

And even once Griffin is back, Cousins is more valuable to the Redskins as a member of their team than he is as a trade chip. There's no way to know when a starting quarterback will get hurt, and in Cousins the Redskins have a guy they feel good about plugging in as a replacement when and if Griffin does. He's shown an ability to run their offense. His teammates like and respond to him as a leader. He won a game for them during the seven-game winning streak that won them the division last year. A backup quarterback who gives you the confidence that he can win an NFL game is a valuable commodity. Some teams pay a lot for that. The Redskins have one who plays for peanuts.

There may come a day when trading Cousins makes sense, but that day is not on the 2013 calendar. Ideally, Griffin makes it back at full strength and never gets hurt again, and along the way Cousins shows enough in preseason and as an occasional fill-in to make him appealing to other teams. If all of that happens, then a couple of years from now the Redskins should be able to get a draft pick or two of significant value for Cousins. That's the ideal long-range plan. But things don't always go as planned, and when they don't you need a reliable backup. That's what Cousins is for the Redskins, and that's why they shouldn't even think right now about trading him.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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