Washington has applied the franchise tag to quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins has signed it. It means that he’s under contract for 2016, at nearly $20 million.
The two sides have only until July 15 to sign Cousins to a deal that goes beyond 2016. During a Tuesday morning visit to PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, G.M. Scot McCloughan was asked whether there’s any reason to think the contract will be done before the deadline, given that this is a deadline-driven business.
“I can’t answer that. I don’t know for sure, but we would love to get it done,” McCloughan said. “We would love to get it done but you’re well aware of how the business works. He’s our leader on offense, he’s our quarterback. He won the [NFC] East for us last year, a 16-game quarterback, took us to the playoffs.
“But it takes two sides to come together and it is a big contract and it’s gonna be a long-term contract. The years, the money and the incentives, all that stuff comes into play. But it’s ongoing. I really believe, talking with Kirk and of course myself and our organization, we want to get a long-term deal done. He wants to be here, he sees what’s going on, the positive energy, and it’s a business. It takes time these long term deals, big deals like this.”
The deadline is important in situations like this because nobody wants to move close to a bottom-line position with time left to negotiate. Whoever does that ends up potentially getting squeezed off the bottom-line position later. So both sides keep it in neutral until there’s limited time remaining, and then they try to figure out if their bottom-line positions intersect.
Regardless of what Cousins wants and what Washington is willing to offer, he has $19.95 million in the bank for 2016. After 2016, Washington will have to decide between letting the market set his value or paying him $23.94 million. So unless Washington is offering $43.89 million over the first two years, Cousins arguably should let the process play itself out.
His recent comments seem to suggest that he’s willing to do just that. By saying that he doesn’t deserve a long-term deal if he doesn’t play well in 2016, Cousins is saying that he’s willing to bet on himself for a second straight season.
Last year, Cousins parlayed a $660,000 salary into nearly $20 million for one year. That’s an increase of more than 3,000 percent. So he’s familiar with going all in and winning big. This time around, he’s got a much, much larger bird in the hand.
For Washington, there’s significant risk in letting Cousins hit the open market. As Washington proved two weeks ago when signing cornerback Josh Norman, sometimes another team is willing to pay a guy who is the property another team a lot more than the other team is willing to pay him.