As various franchise-tagged players prepare to hammer out long-term contracts with negotiations driven by the deadline of 4:00 p.m. ET on July 15, one franchise-tagged player won’t have to worry about playing beat the clock.
For Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins, the deadline is irrelevant; an impasse exists that won’t be broken in the next eight days.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, nothing is happening by way of negotiations between Cousins and the team, and nothing will be happening. The two sides won’t be reaching a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline.
By rule, Washington and Cousins will not be able to sign a new contract until after the 2016 regular season ends.
The divide is driven by the realities of the franchise tag. By already committing $19.95 million to Cousins under the franchise tag for 2016, Washington will have to give him a 20-percent raise or let him hit the open market in March 2017. That’s $23.94 million for 2017.
So the starting point for negotiations on a long-term deal is clear: $19.95 million for 2016 plus $23.94 million for 2017, for a total of $43.89 million over two years.
By all indications, Washington wants to see Cousins repeat his performance of 2016 before breaking the bank beyond $19.95 million. However, a year from now the starting point becomes $23.94 million for 2017 plus a 44-percent raise for 2018, or $34.47 million. That’s $58.41 million for two years, if Cousins plays this year like he did last year.
Already, Cousins has beaten the odds, parlaying a $660,000 salary from 2015 into $19.95 million for 2016. To his credit, he’s using the system to his advantage and not accepting less than what the franchise tag formula would dictate.
Washington put this process in motion by using the tag. The team could have let the market determine Cousins’ value. In that circumstance, however, Cousins could have signed with another team. Washington chose not to do it, and now Cousins is choosing to exercise his right to go year-to-year until he gets the long-term offer he wants.