Washington won’t be able to trade Kirk Cousins

Getty Images

After word surfaced that the Chiefs will trade (as of March 14) quarterback Alex Smith to Washington, some suggested that Washington will now trade quarterback Kirk Cousins. Washington won’t, because Washington as a practical matter can’t.

Technically, Washington can trade Cousins. To do that, however, Washington would have to have Cousins under contract when the window for trades reopens, on March 14. So Cousins would have to sign a new contract (not happening) or Washington would have to apply the franchise tag (at more than $34 million for 2018) or the transition tag (at more than $28 million) and Cousins would have to sign it. Then, Washington could trade Cousins to another team that would give Cousins a long-term deal replacing the one-year guarantee under the franchise or transition tag.

As a source with knowledge of the situation explained it to PFT, those scenarios that would allow Washington to trade Cousins provide zero benefit to Cousins. Indeed, why would he cooperate with Washington to allow Washington to get value for Cousins, when he merely needs to do nothing and become an unrestricted free agent? Washington would be stupid (even by Washington standards) to tag him after striking a tentative deal to trade for Alex Smith, and Cousins would gain nothing by going along with any such approach.

If a team were to give up draft picks or players for Cousins, that team necessarily would pay Cousins less than it would pay him if nothing of value had to be surrendered. Also, Cousins should want to be able to go to a new team that preserves all picks and players, so that he’ll have maximum help around him.

For all those reasons, a trade of Cousins won’t be happening. He’ll instead go wherever he chooses on or after March 14, truly unrestricted by the team that drafted him in the fourth round a full six years ago.

22 responses to “Washington won’t be able to trade Kirk Cousins

  1. As sure as I am sitting here, one of the other 31 teams will sign Cousins and will, in the process, overpay him.

    It might as well be the Vikings, they haven’t figured out their Qb situation in decades so why should next year be any different?

  2. Not to mention that the current CBA pretty much kills tag and trades by giving the NFLPA the right to veto a trade of a tagged player.

  3. Cousins is already gone from Washington even if he is still physically located there.

    The team made their choice, there’s no way they can profit further from it than they already have.

    What would be hilarious is if AZ or one of the other QB needy teams offer more to the KC for Alex Smith before the trade can be finalized, and he ends up someplace not the Redskins. Then Washington would really be in it up to their necks.

  4. Kirk Cousins, because of the almost mind-numbing inefficiencies built into the free agency system, is about to become the highest paid player in NFL history, despite not even being the best QB in his own division this year. I don’t blame the Redskins for wanting no part of that.

    If I were a fan of whatever team winds up giving Cousins his monster deal, I would feel a little uneasy that the team knows him best did not.

  5. harrisonhits2 says:
    January 31, 2018 at 6:41 pm
    Cousins is already gone from Washington even if he is still physically located there.

    The team made their choice, there’s no way they can profit further from it than they already have.

    What would be hilarious is if AZ or one of the other QB needy teams offer more to the KC for Alex Smith before the trade can be finalized, and he ends up someplace not the Redskins. Then Washington would really be in it up to their necks.
    ~~~~~~~~~
    That is pretty unlikely. These guys have to do business with one another. Giving your word on an agreement and then cancelling before it is allowed to be finalized would harm the team in the future.

  6. I’m confused. I thought if they franchise/transition tag him and he “does nothing” that means he doesn’t play in 2018.

    Practically speaking, I get that he wouldn’t gain anything by helping the Redskins get compensation but is it actually true that he simply becomes an unrestricted FA if he doesn’t sign the tag? If so, could he not have done that each of the last two years?

  7. They’ll get nothing for him and I’ll be glad. They’ve jerked him around for years. I hope Alex Smith has one awful year and demands a trade.

  8. themattstapiece says:
    January 31, 2018 at 7:00 pm
    I’m confused. I thought if they franchise/transition tag him and he “does nothing” that means he doesn’t play in 2018.

    Practically speaking, I get that he wouldn’t gain anything by helping the Redskins get compensation but is it actually true that he simply becomes an unrestricted FA if he doesn’t sign the tag? If so, could he not have done that each of the last two years?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    That was my understanding as well. There is no way they would tag him now. Nobody is going to pay him tag money ($34M for 1 year…and he can walk after) on a trade. They would have a better shot at getting him cheaper/longer. Cousins would break some speed records signing that tag if they did it because he and his agent should both know that is the most he will ever get in a single year.

  9. It is indeed embarrassing to be a Redskins’ fan. Just when you think they can’t do something MORE STUPID, they find a way.

    This team sucks – and this is from a fan from the 1970 season on…

  10. It’s Cousins that jerked the Redskins around these past few years. Cousins can go kick a can for all I care if he didn’t want to be in DC.

  11. The DC front office is unequaled in incompetence in the league. From throwing Cousins away for nothing, to signing the poster boy of average QBing to a huge contract instead.

  12. Let me get this straight: A couple of years ago, Cousins was wanting $50 million from Washington over four years. The Skins, “Hell no, that’s way too much!” So what did they do? They paid Cousins $44 million over two years, let him walk for nothing in return, and then traded a third rounder and their best CB for a 34 year old guy who they’ve guaranteed $74 million for the next four years. Ladies and gentlemen, how does anybody screw up on such a monumental level AND keep a job all at the same time?

  13. whatjusthapped says:
    January 31, 2018 at 6:26 pm
    As sure as I am sitting here, one of the other 31 teams will sign Cousins and will, in the process, overpay him.
    _________________
    Cousins literally can’t be overpaid. The NFL market for quarterbacks is such that each successive quarterback looking for a new deal will become the highest paid quarterback in the history of the NFL. If team X won’t, team Y will. Cousins’ worth is to be the highest paid quarterback in the game right now, and he will be. Next year Mariota and Winston will go through the same process. This is just how QB contract works, and to complain about it is foolish.

  14. This whole saga is exactly what’s wrong with the NFL’s Free Agency system. The Franchise Tag and Transition Tag, when used on non-premier players, artificially pumps up the contract value for those players. Agents use the 2-year Franchise Tag contract value as the floor for contract negotiations for mediocre players, which is usually a lot more than the player would command in a competitive open market.

    Teams desperate to retain their players are forced to overpay non-premier players, which not only inflates the price of other non-premier players, but everybody above them. For example, when Kirk Cousins is getting $23M for a season, people start to wonder what Aaron Rogers is worth and players like Matt Stafford get $25M+ per season.

    The Franchise and Transition tags carry high salaries because they are one-year deals where the player carries the entire risk of injury or poor performance. Cousins got lucky that he stayed healthy and played just well enough to move the tags forward. If he had gotten injured or played poorly, he very well could have been dumped after the first Franchise Tag contract.

    I know most of use mere mortals would jump at the chance for a one-year $20M+ contract, even with the risk of it being the only one. However, as a young mediocre QB in the NFL, Cousins could have easily gotten $30-40M guaranteed on a multi-year deal. He took the injury and performance risk and won, but that was a much bigger risk than most of us realize.

    It will be interesting to see what Kirk Cousins commands on the free market as arguably the most accomplished, completely healthy QB ever to see free agency in his prime. I’m guessing it will be $18-20M range on a 3 or 4 year deal, very much like Alex Smith just received, rather than the $22M average he just saw.

    The best way for NFL teams to handle the contract expiration of a non-premier player is actually the way Tampa Bay handled RB Doug Martin a couple offseasons ago. Martin was coming off of a career year, rebounding off a really bad year. The Bucs could have used the Franchise or Transition Tag, which would have set his one-year contract value at about $10M. The Bucs declined to use either tag, which automatically dropped Martin’s value back to the pack. Both sides agreed to a 5-year deal worth about $36M with $15M guaranteed. Martin laid an egg performance wise and got suspended for PEDs the first year. If he had gone the Franchise Tag route, he would have only gotten the $10M and likely joined Ray Rice on the unemployment line. Instead, he essentially guaranteed himself a second season (even though the PED suspension voided his guaranteed money) to redeem himself. Martin also laid an egg in the second season, so his career is on life support, but he earned the full $15M that was originally guaranteed.

    TL;DR: Franchise and Transition tags are ruining free agency by overpaying non-premium players. Teams need to stop using them on non-premier players.

  15. “Ladies and gentlemen, how does anybody screw up on such a monumental level AND keep a job all at the same time?”

    Bruce Allen has deep DC political connections which he is leveraging to get Dan Snyder a new tax-payer funded stadium. Allen can screw up as monumentally as he wants on football personnel. If he screws up monumentally on the stadium, though, THEN he’s gone.

    Here’s hoping he screws up monumentally on the stadium.

  16. whatjusthapped says:
    January 31, 2018 at 6:26 pm
    As sure as I am sitting here, one of the other 31 teams will sign Cousins and will, in the process, overpay him.

    It might as well be the Vikings, they haven’t figured out their Qb situation in decades so why should next year be any different?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It never ceases to amaze me; the reach that some will employ, to twist any story, on anything, into a slam on the Vikings. Sad life.

  17. TL;DR: Franchise and Transition tags are ruining free agency by overpaying non-premium players. Teams need to stop using them on non-premier players.

    ______________________—-

    The problem isn’t with the tag itself. The problem is with teams using it on players they shouldn’t. If the tag is calculated based on the salaries of the top 5 players at a given position, why on earth would you use it on a guy who you didn’t think was top 5 and then try to negotiate with him? I’ve been saying for years, the way teams use the tag is a mistake.

  18. The only time to use the tag is when you’ve come to the conclusion that you’re not getting a longer deal on terms you can live with, and you want to ride out the player’s talent for as long as you can before he leaves.

    Any other time you use it, you’re wasting resources. It means you, as a GM, messed up somewhere and now you’re overpaying someone else. That’s two mistakes in one. That’s how you end up the Browns.

  19. Cousins is the guy that chucks his own name in the hat at a charity date auction. He’s chasing some unfulfilled fantasy being courted in free agency. He wanted this more than anything, and this was true no matter who drafted him. He was never gonna resign with the first team he played. Can’t blame the Redskins organization for this one.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!