La Canfora: Franchise Tag Still Looms Over Cousins, Redskins

WASHINGTON — On Thanksgiving Day, Jason La Canfora reported the Redskins would indeed franchise tag Kirk Cousins again if they’re unable to reach a long-term agreement before the March 1 tag deadline. More than a month later, nothing’s changed, he says.

In a Thursday appearance with Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan, the CBS NFL Insider was asked if using the franchise tag for the second straight year was the Redskins’ most likely path with Cousins.

“I think it’s what I reported at Thanksgiving,” La Canfora, who broke the news of Joe Barry’s firing earlier in the day, said. “They’re gonna franchise him again. I don’t see him budging before they franchise him unless you give him $25 million a year and — you give him $125 [million] and you guarantee over 50 percent of that, then, yeah. He may have reason not to just start negotiating off of $24 million a year.”

A five-year, $125 million deal would certainly top Andrew Luck’s contract both in total and average annual value, as Luck makes $24.594 million per season, and guaranteeing half would insure Cousins for $62.5 million.

Related: Cousins’ Next Deal to Obliterate 2016 Salary

“Otherwise, you take the $24 million for next year and you have until July 15 to figure something out,” La Canfora said. “Whether that leads to a trade or whether that leads to a massive contract I guess remains to be seen. I mean, a trade like that wouldn’t be easy and the timing would be a little tricky, but there’s no way that come whenever the deadline for franchise period to end.”

“I just can’t fathom, and neither can they, a situation where he’s gone. Again, unless you set up some sort of trade to be consummated after the league years begins in March,” he said. “Because that’s the only time you can officially do that stuff.”

Asked if Cousins holds any animosity with the Redskins, La Canfora said, “I don’t think there’s any animosity whatsoever. You know, it’s business. I mean, look. Would he have loved to have it settled? Sure. But he made $20 million for 16 games of work. There’s no animosity there.”

“I think he’s a pretty honest guy, so he’s gonna tell you sort of how he’s feeling about what he thinks his worth is,” he said. “But if they were to just let him walk, trust me, he wouldn’t be like ‘those jerks!’ You know what I mean? It would be like, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go out into the market where I think I am very much the best position guy available and we’ll find out. Let the market speak. I think I’ll do really, really well.’ And I would agree with him there. I also don’t think it’s every going to get to that point.”

Speaking of contracts, Jay Gruden just entered the fourth year of his five-year guaranteed deal, which makes 2017 a pretty big year for him. But a make or break year?

“If they go 9-7 next year or 10-6 and miss the playoffs because it’s the NFC and there’s better quarterbacks over there and that just happens sometimes, then I don’t know it means that he’s getting shown the door,” La Canfora said, “but I think if you start looking big picture of when they reach the focal point, it’s always the year before that final year of the contract that sort of tells the tale of: Do they let him play it out as a lame duck, do they fire him, or do they give him the extension? That’s what this season will really be the indicator of.”

“At the end of this year, they’re gonna have a decision to make,” he said. “Basically there will be three choices, and if you let the guy play out the lame duck year, there’s a decent chance that he walks entirely if it happens well. If he has a decent season in that fifth year, you’re probably risking losing him entirely, so if you really think he’s any good, it’s really two choices: You either get rid of him or you reward him.”

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan on Twitter.

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