As of last week, Washington hadn’t decided whether to apply either tag to quarterback Kirk Cousins. While it remains possible that the tag will be applied by Tuesday’s deadline of 4:00 p.m. ET, that doesn’t mean the decision had been made several days ago, because it hadn’t.
If the decision eventually is made to apply the franchise tag to Cousins, Washington will owe him a one-year salary of $19.95 million that becomes fully guaranteed if/when he signs the tender. If Washington goes with the transition tender, Cousins becomes eligible for $17.696 million in 2016, which also becomes fully guaranteed once Cousins signs it.
Whether he signs either tender right away or not, the tender then becomes the starting point for a long-term deal. Under the franchise tag, a fair two-year haul becomes $43.89 million — the sum of the 2016 tender and the 20-percent raise over that for the 2017 tender. Under the transition tender, a fair two-year haul becomes $38.9 million.
As one source explained it to PFT, Washington currently is leaning toward the transition tender. The source also explained that Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, has begun the process of determining whether another team would cobble together an offer sheet for Cousins to sign.
It could be a hard sell, given that Washington would have the right to match the deal, and in light of the reality that whoever makes a run at Cousins would then have to persuade the fan base that whoever the team acquires to play quarterback in 2016 wasn’t a fallback option.
So is Cousins worth more than $19 million on average over two years under the transition tag or nearly $22 million on average over two years under the franchise tag? In consideration of the current quarterback market, no. In consideration of what the quarterback should be after the salary cap has gone up by more than 25 percent per team since the upper end of the market was set three years ago, maybe it’s time for a new crop of quarterbacks to get paid more than they should, if the measuring stick is what the older guys are making.