No. 6 – Kirk Cousins (2015-2017)
No quarterback who started for more than a season in Washington has a higher rating than Kirk Cousins. No quarterback has a higher yards-per-attempt. No quarterback completed a higher percentage of his throws. Yet Kirk Cousins was always seen as the consolation prize. Miss Congeniality to Robert Griffin’s beauty queen. Mike Shanahan chose Cousins in the fourth-round of the 2012 draft, after the team had mortgaged its future to grab Griffin in the first round. This was the first sign that the Shanahan-Griffin relationship was troubled from the start.
Cousins sat on the bench until Griffin’s injury status gave him a shot. He responded. Cousins consistently threw for over 4,000 yards in his three years as the full-time starter. He had a better than 2:1 touchdown/interception ratio. He broke the team’s single-season passing record in 2015, and then shattered it again in 2016. He took the team to the playoffs in 2015, made the Pro Bowl in 2016.
Still, none of it was good enough. Washington franchise tagged him in consecutive seasons, but seemed unwilling to commit to a long-term deal. He left for big money in Minnesota after the 2017 season. Vikings fans have had the same vague sense of dissatisfaction, despite a playoff run in 2019.
Whether Cousins is an upper-echelon quarterback or a merely competent signal caller who has taken advantage of modern passing rules to accumulate impressive stats remains an ongoing debate. But he had a good run in Washington, and that shouldn’t be forgotten so quickly.