Kirk Cousins saga could culminate in 2018 transition tag

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The rules of the franchise tag make it highly unlikely that Washington will use the device both in 2017 and in 2018 on quarterback Kirk Cousins. But there’s a little-known rule that could come into play next year.

In 2017, the franchise tag would give Cousins a 20-percent raise over his $19.95 million franchise tag from 2016, which becomes $23.94 million for 16 games. Next year, the franchise tag would result in a 44-percent raise, which would be $34.47 million.

This means that Washington, as a practical matter, wouldn’t use the franchise tag on Cousins in 2018 — if they use it in 2017.

But the Collective Bargaining Agreement provides another route. Washington could apply the franchise tag this year and the transition tag in 2018. By rule, this would result in only a 20-percent increase over Cousins’ $23.94 million compensation in 2017.

That approach would cost $28.78 million in 2018, but that would be nearly $6 million less than a third use of the franchise tag. More importantly, it would make the formula for a long-term deal based on the franchise tag more affordable (or less unaffordable) than it otherwise would be. Instead of a long-term deal premised on Cousins making $23.94 million this year and $34.47 million next year, Washington could offer $23.94 million plus $28.78 million over the first two years of a long-term deal. That’s $52.72 million over two years. Yes, that would make Cousins the highest-paid player in football. But what others make doesn’t matter when a player’s leverage is determined by the rules of the franchise and transition tags.

While the transition tag carries no compensation, it would Washington the right to match any offer Cousins attracts on the open market in 2018. The question then would be whether Cousins wants to sign an offer sheet that Washington would be inclined to match, or one that Washington wouldn’t match.

Washington started down this path in 2016 by using the franchise tag and not signing Cousins to a long-term deal. He now has the upper hand, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t use it.

When owners take full advantage of business leverage, they’re praised for being shrewd. When players do it, they’re often called selfish. Regardless, Cousins currently has nothing to lose by letting things play out.

If Washington tags him again this year, Cousins gets $23.94 million for one more year — and either $28.78 million in 2018 or a clean shot at the open market. If Washington doesn’t tag him, the open market will set his value now.

Either way, Cousins will win. All that’s left to be determined is who pays him and how much.

59 responses to “Kirk Cousins saga could culminate in 2018 transition tag

  1. I’m not a cap expert. But, it wouldn’t it make sense just for Washington to sign him to a long term deal where they can spread out the cash instead of paying him 24 mill this year, 28 mill next year and 34 mill in 2019??

  2. Cousins is too emotional to be a consistent top flight quarterback. Every time he does something good, he’s got to find somebody quickly to give him validation whether it be Dan Snyder, the media, the fans, etc. He’s extremely talented but I would be worried if I were a Redskins fan that he’s going to be a guy who keeps them in the conversation every year, but can never seal the deal.

    In hindsight, not unlike Tony Romo did in Dallas.

  3. The guys a good qb. Make him a $100M contract and be done with it. Such a joke or an organization. They haven’t had a qb there since theismann and he was just ok. You’d think they wouldn’t play these dumb games

  4. kcchefs58 says:
    Feb 11, 2017 3:57 PM
    QB pay is crazy these days.

    Well it’s a passing league, and you cannot consistienly win with only average QB play. The QB is the most important variable in the winning formula. Yes you can get by with mediocre play if you have elite offensive talent around the QB or Elite defensive talent. Just look at the broncos. They got by last year because they relied on defense on the final stretch. But look this year.

  5. Cousins had the guts and confidence to bet on himself and he won. He deserves to let it play out because he already won.

  6. And somewhere else people are telling the Browns to trade the farm for Garoppolo and give him a huge deal on the basis of 6 quarters played.

    Cousins is a quality starter. Pay the man and focus on other problems.

  7. Wow. Tom Brady went in the 6th round. Joe Montana 3rd round. Dak Prescott 4th. Kurt Warner and Tony Romo weren’t even drafted. Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Derek Carr went in the second round. Why don’t teams just spend a little more money on the scouting operations instead of paying $100 million to QBs who have never won anything? Plus. the scouts don’t count toward the salary cap.

  8. A lot of people here and elsewhere believe that WAS is jerking Kirk around. I’m one of the franchise’s most vocal critics, but in this case there isn’t any blame to be laid at anyone’s feet. It doesn’t make sense for WAS to pay what Kirk is reportedly asking for. It doesn’t make sense for Kirk to ask for less.

    The Redskins have a problem. They have, essentially, Andy Dalton 2.0. Kirk throws for a lot of yards. He does not, however, score points inside the Red Zone. One could blame the lack of run game for this, and perhaps that is fair, but WAS was 30th (!!!) in RZ success last year despite having arguably the best arsenal of skill position players in the league.

    Jordan Reed, Djax, Garçon, Crowder, and Vernon Davis were only barely better than *Cleveland* once in the RZ. Something is wrong somewhere.

    To pay Kirk, at least two of those weapons will be gone. The defensive side of the ball needs major help. I don’t think there’s a good solution here, but I think it’s also wrong to act as if there is a clear answer.

  9. There aren’t 32 Tom Bradys and Aaron Rodgers, Brees
    That’s why if you have a Flacco, Eli, Rivers, Ben you pay them. Then there is the Stafford, Cousins, Matt Ryan…Tier You pay them too and Cousins is one of them. These guys have Pro B0wl years and sometimes they don’t. Then you have the bottom 10 which varies from year to year as guys come into and out of the league.
    IMO if you have a top 11-20 QB you gladly pay them the market rate and try and improve anywhere else you can. Maybe if they are old and declining looking at you Carson Palmer you move on and try to find the next one, but if they are under 30 and throw 10 more TD’s than INTs and complete 60% of their passes give them a contract.

  10. How hard is it sign a QB without all the drama? Other teams do it all the time, why can’t the Redskins?

  11. Not sure how many commenters here are ‘Skins fans, but I am, and have seen every game Kirk has played since 2012.

    The issue a lot of ‘Skins fans have with him, and the org., is really two fold. First, is he a product of the system, and if so can you replace him with someone way cheaper? And second, is he really *that* good? What I mean by that is his RedZone numbers, when things get tighter, passing windows get smaller, and receivers aren’t as open is dismal compared to his stats inside of the 20s. He has nice numbers but he plays it safe, too. And as a result we have 450 yards of offense but 23 points to show for it instead of 35+ with that many yards.

  12. This is so great. He is just playing the system and
    I’m all in. There is NO WAY n the open market he’s getting that type of money. Dan is handcuffed.
    hahhahaaaaaahahahaaa

  13. 106reasons says:
    Feb 11, 2017 4:56 PM
    A lot of people here and elsewhere believe that WAS is jerking Kirk around. I’m one of the franchise’s most vocal critics, but in this case there isn’t any blame to be laid at anyone’s feet. It doesn’t make sense for WAS to pay what Kirk is reportedly asking for. It doesn’t make sense for Kirk to ask for less.
    The Redskins have a problem. They have, essentially, Andy Dalton 2.0. Kirk throws for a lot of yards. He does not, however, score points inside the Red Zone. One could blame the lack of run game for this, and perhaps that is fair, but WAS was 30th (!!!) in RZ success last year despite having arguably the best arsenal of skill position players in the league.
    Jordan Reed, Djax, Garçon, Crowder, and Vernon Davis were only barely better than *Cleveland* once in the RZ. Something is wrong somewhere.
    To pay Kirk, at least two of those weapons will be gone. The defensive side of the ball needs major help. I don’t think there’s a good solution here, but I think it’s also wrong to act as if there is a clear answer.
    ———————————

    They either need to sign the guy to a contract, or let someone else have him. There going to end up paying him a contract’s worth of franchise tags.

  14. I am not a fan, but live in the DC area. I have been on record more than once last year stating that the Redskins would be fools not to sign him to a long term deal instead of the franchise tag. No, he is not worth more money than Tom Brady, but the Skins’ decision making process has led to this untenable situation. Don’t act like last year’s offseason didn’t happen. His redzone numbers could have been better, but that is why most teams have wideouts that are taller than 5’8″

  15. jssebastian2014 says:
    Feb 11, 2017 6:54 PM
    He’s one sack away from becoming their very own Kevin Kolb.

    Dan Snyder was Jed York before Jed York was Jed York.
    —————————————————————–

    Disagree with the former (c’mon, he’s better than Kolb. lol!), agree with the latter.

  16. Your entire premise for formulating the potential starting point for negotiations is absurd. Those numbers are based on consecutive 1 year deals where the player assumes all risk for the next year. If the player wants the team to assume that risk by signing him to a multi-year deal then the team would not offer more than what they can already do with no future risk.

  17. Kirk played two contract years in a row, he set franchise records in 2015, and then broke them in 2016. He doesn’t turn the ball over and has managed to stay healthy. The Redskins need to sign him and move on. I think the redzone issues are a combination of bad play calling and him looking over his shoulder and playing it safe.

    As a fan I do wish that Dan Snyder would sell the Redskins.

  18. If the negotiations are proceeding with Cousins’ agent taking the Florio line saying that he should get the same guaranteed money that the tag gives him in a multi-year deal then FinFan68 is correct, and the Skins are better off taging him and letting Cousins assume the risk rather than paying him the same amount and assuming some of Kirk’s risk.

  19. What is Cousins worth on the open market? 20 million a year for 4 or 5 years? I can see why the Skins would go year to yearvin the event of injury but 30 plus million is ridiculous. At some point you have to let him hit free agency bc he’s not getting Andrew luck money on the open market. That will kill any team signing him.

  20. Skins can match any offer Cousins gets without transition tag … if Cousins let’s them. Why not do it this year? I’d just be really surprised if the Niners or anyone gave him Andrew luck money. How can a team win like that?

  21. truninerfan49 says:
    Feb 11, 2017 3:31 PM
    I’m not a cap expert. But, it wouldn’t it make sense just for Washington to sign him to a long term deal where they can spread out the cash instead of paying him 24 mill this year, 28 mill next year and 34 mill in 2019??

    ===========================

    you are absolutely correct sir!! however the sentence “make sense for Washington” doesnt exist right now as the owner is just ridiculous as is his Napoleonic buddy B Allen and the slightly angry (hmm wonder why) Scot Mcloughan.

  22. theheyseed says:
    Feb 11, 2017 8:17 PM

    Kirk played two contract years in a row, he set franchise records in 2015, and then broke them in 2016. He doesn’t turn the ball over and has managed to stay healthy. The Redskins need to sign him and move on. I think the redzone issues are a combination of bad play calling and him looking over his shoulder and playing it safe.
    __________________________
    “He doesn’t turn the ball over.” Took me a minute to stop laughing at that. His penchant for awful turnovers at the worst times is exactly why they haven’t paid him the big contract and put this behind them.

  23. Snyder was the worst thing to happen to this team. He forced the RGIII trade. He forced the RGIII extension of contract that made him untradable, he forced the franchise tag of Cousins last year that has left them in this quandary. Don’t be fooled, we are watching the final stupidity of our owners foolhardy trade in .2012 play out all the way out here in 2017. The man is the dumbest man in football. God I wish he would sell this team!

  24. As a long time Redskins fan , I have seen Kirk play every game of his career. Kirk has improved with more playing time the last 2 years. I do believe Kirk will get better over time. So I do believe we need to resign Kirk to a long term deal that is fair to him and the team. Kirk needs to undertand that he cant nickle and dime the team and hope to have success if you don’t have money to pay other good players. The Redskins have D-Jax and Garcon who are free agents. The Redskins need to over haul their defense up front. So Kirk is a keeper but i hope he understand that winning is all that really matter not the stats. I do believe they will work out a long term deal this year , why should let Kirk walk now after we drafted him and groomed him to be the starter. Kirk is a top 10 QB in the NFL as of rught now.

  25. As a 49er fan I have to chime in. I’d much rather have Dan Snyder because even though he’s a meddling buffoon just like Jed York, he does it because he’s trying to win, Jed just wants to make/save money. Once he got his new stadium he didn’t feel he had to pay for a top of the line coaching staff anymore and kept his group of glad-handing yes men over winning football minds and this is the result we are faced with. Snyder wants to win and just gets in the way of himself but I’d take him over Jed any day.

  26. DieHard Skins Fan Here!!! Get rid of this selfish bum; he’s holding our franchise hostage!! At best he’s Andy Dalton at worst he Borat Osweiler!!!!!

  27. The salary cap system needs to be thrown out completely – it was created to protect small market teams who couldn’t compete with big market teams ability to attract players with big salaries, but that was in the day when teams were owned by mom-and-pop industry style millionaires. Now the NFL is owned by billionaires playing the game as a hobby and ruthlessly doing all they can to jack as much profit out of it as possible, at the expense of the fans and players. Remove the salary cap and let these billionaires fight it out among themselves with sky-high salaries to players. Of course they’ll pass the cost on to fans, which will kill the goose, but they’re doing that now. Might as well get it over with.

  28. “I would be worried if I were a Redskins fan that he’s going to be a guy who keeps them in the conversation every year….”
    Yes, nothing worse than rooting for players you like who are home grown and give you success and excitement to look forward to on Sundays. Let’s release all the coordinators, draft for leverage over free agents vs needed talent, and search for cheaper versions of our good players.

  29. Couple thoughts… I don’t believe the tag-based analysis of his potential long-term contract numbers are correct in that they ignore the injury, and/or drop in performance, risks that would be 100% on Cousins if tagged. If tagged he carries those risks so the numbers need to reflect that. If under long term contract the team bears those risks (at least in the first few years) which gives them some leverage that isn’t accounted for in the pure tag-based analysis in the article

    Second… the dude is a whiteskin QB, which has pluses and minuses. They should at least consider bringing in another blackskin QB.

  30. In Cousins’ situation, he has never been selfish. He’s taken more garbage from his team and the idiot fans who hate him than he deserves.

    I am a Cousins fan and I actually want him to leave this team and to give them the royal shaft.

    This team actually has fans who want mediocrity – they can’t handle anyone with talent other than the ones that are gimmicks like the big draft bust from 2012.

    When we finally have a QB that is our best in over 20 years, idiot Redskins fans want perfection.

    And I hope Cousins tells those fans to stuff their perfection and he goes somewhere where there is a defense.

    Cousins will win a Super Bowl.

    But it won’t be in Washington.

  31. clayjtitan66 says:
    Feb 12, 2017 12:49 PM
    Change the nickname Snyder, it’s a slur.

    ————————————————————–

    Uh oh, snowflake triggered. Climb back into your safe-space clayjtitan66.

  32. jimnaizeeum says:
    Feb 11, 2017 4:21 PM
    If you think this guy is pocketing over 20 mil a year you must be high on something.
    ====================

    His 2016 earnings were only $47k short of that. That’s twice now Cousins has bet on himself and won. It’s called timing and leverage.

  33. If there was a team called the Michigan Micks and their symbol was a red faced drunken Irishman I would have ZERO problem with it. It’s innocuous just like Redskins.

  34. Cousins needs to be vocal about not signing anything unless its a long term deal…..the money is good but no security for injury….first thing he needs to do is fire his agent its time to go to war with little Danny Snyder….

  35. I do not understand why the $24 million and $34 million are considered the starting point on a long term deal. Yes, if they tag him this year and next, he would get paid that. But, I do not see any way they tag him at $34 million next year. Nor do I see anyone else paying him $34 million. Maybe I am wrong, but that is too much for what he has done so far. With that in mind, wouldn’t a long term deal seem to fall in line closer to the $24 million per season than to the $34 million? I don’t see how a math problem and multiplier set the range when no team will actually pay that for Cousins.

    Cousins is free to bet on himself, but I would think a 4-5 year deal in the $26 million range would net him $50-60 in guaranteed bonuses. Wouldn’t that much guarantee be better than the chance of a few million more later, but no guarantee? He obviously views it differently.

  36. The Redskins would be out of their mind to pay Kirk Cousins Andrew Luck money. It was a mistake to franchise him last season, but to even consider it this season makes no sense. I say try to recoup your lose and move on, use the the non-exclusive franchise tag on Kirk if you can’t trade him for a first and a fourth round draft picks. Kirk Cousins is fools gold! He operates in a simplified offensive scheme that doesn’t ask much of him. Kirk has showed that he has hit his ceiling, the last four games of last season should be enough of a picture of Kirk Cousins. With the playoffs on the line Kirk did not show up against the Cardinal, Panthers or Giants with two of those three games at home. The Redskins should move on from Kirk, because he and his greedy agent have put him above the team. Kirk has not won but one meaningful game his entire NFL career, let the 49ers, Jets, Bears or the Browns play him.

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