NFL free agents usually prefer not to get the franchise tag. But Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins couldn’t wait to sign it.
That’s because Cousins figured a one-year guaranteed base salary of $19.95 million was an awfully good deal. And it is: Cousins has the second-highest base salary in the entire NFL this season, second only to the $23.485 million base salary for Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. If Suh restructures his contract, as some expect him to do, Cousins will have the highest base salary in the league.
Cousins’ cap hit is the same as his base salary, and on that scale he ranks 12th in the NFL, behind Suh, Calvin Johnson and nine other quarterbacks. (Some of these numbers will change; Peyton Manning’s cap hit is currently slated to be $21.5 million, but when he retires or the Broncos cut him, his dead cap will be only $2.5 million.)
For Cousins, the franchise tag is a pretty good deal. After only one season as a starter, he’s getting paid a million and a quarter dollars a game. And next year, he either gets a long-term deal, becomes an unrestricted free agent or gets the franchise tag again, which would guarantee him a base salary of at least $23.94 million next year. Cousins is doing well for himself.