WASHINGTON — The Redskins have placed the exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins, according to the team and agent Mike McCartney.
Cousins told 106.7 The Fan last month that he’s willing to play on the franchise tag in 2017. The two sides do have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract.
It is the second year in a row Washington has used the franchise tag on Cousins. Last year he was tendered the non-exclusive tag for $19.95 million – a one-year deal that he played on in 2016.
But by using the exclusive franchise tag, the Redskins reasserted some control over the process. Cousins can only negotiate with the team now unless it gives permission. The non-exclusive tag would have allowed McCartney to negotiate terms with other teams and possibly sign an offer sheet.
Washington beat the 4 p.m. Wednesday deadline by just over 24 hours. That was a foregone conclusion because the alternative was Cousins becoming a free agent on March 9. He could have left the team with nothing coming back in return.
According to a league source, Cousins expects to sign the franchise-tag offer. It will guarantee him $23.9 million for 2017 thanks to a 120-percent raise off last year’s salary. Using the tag again next year one final time would cost over $34 million and is almost impossible to justify for one player under the current salary cap. That’s why Cousins will likely be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 if he doesn’t sign a long-term contract before training camp.
Does this make it more or less likely that the Redskins will seek to trade Cousins? Ultimately, the team has to decide if a long-term contract is realistic by July 15 or change how it values Cousins, who at age 28 has set the franchise record for passing yards two years in a row. His price isn’t coming down between now and the next deadline and could even rise a little even with the exclusive tag based on other NFL quarterbacks signing extensions this spring.
Either Washington is comfortable having its quarterback play 2017 here and then possibly leave with nothing in return or it’s confident that the Redskins can negotiate with Cousins and come to an agreement. They haven’t seemed willing to do that in the past, but maybe the current market math has them reassessing that stance.
Washington team president Bruce Allen insisted at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. in January that the two sides would get a deal done. That only works, however, if Cousins has interest in negotiating, too. That process starts now.
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