WASHINGTON — Kirk Cousins cleared the air Tuesday to specify that, despite reports indicating otherwise, he never actually demanded a trade from the Redskins.
But, after signing his exclusive franchise tag tender last Friday, he may still end up getting one.
Cousins maintained leverage over the Redskins before the tag was offered, and right up until he signed the tender. Now, Washington can do what it wants with its quarterback, even if that means trading Cousins — and his $23.94 million salary for 2017 — to an undesirable location.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, “there’s a growing belief in some circles that the Browns will try to acquire Cousins via trade.”
“Another source said that, when Cousins chose to sign his franchise tender last week, the one concern he had is that, after the tender is signed, he can be traded,” Florio writes. “He specifically was concerned about being traded to Cleveland.”
Well, despite trading for Brock Osweiler last week, Cleveland’s deal with Houston was believed to be a precursor move, with reports indicating Cleveland will still shop Osweiler while offering to take on a large chunk of his salary.
The Browns now have a stockpile of draft picks from which to deal, including five picks in the first three rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, which includes the first and 12th overall selections, and multiple second-rounders in 2018.
How could Cleveland justify giving up high-value draft picks for a one-year rental of Cousins? First, understand the Browns entered free agency with over $100 million worth of salary cap space, leaving them with plenty to spend even if they were to go through with eating Osweiler’s salary.
And while the prospect of transition-tagging Cousins in 2018 — at a cost of more than $28 million, or a 20-percent increase over his 2017 salary — may prove too rich for most teams’ blood, the Browns could make it work financially.
More succinctly, they have the money and the picks to make such a fantastical deal possible. And the Redskins, facing the possibility of losing Cousins beyond next season, could have the motivation.
If the Browns pulled off a deal for Cousins, they’d then have until July 15 to convince him to sign long term.