As quarterback Kirk Cousins politicks for a long-term deal, the team based in the heart of the American political system may not be reacting well to his tactics.
Most recently, Cousins argued that a long-term deal will make him a better leader. While there may be some plausible merit to the idea that multi-year security will allow him to relax and be himself, Cousins made $19.95 million last year and, if tagged again, will earn $23.94 million.
If that’s what happens, he should be thrilled to have pocketed $43.89 million over two seasons. Cousins also would be essentially guaranteed a shot at the open market in 2018, since under the rules of the franchise tag he’d be entitled to a 44-percent increase ($34.47 million) via the third application of it.
As Washington CEO Bruce Allen said Friday, negotiating a long-term deal for Cousins isn’t complicated. But it won’t be cheap, if the contract is based on the franchise tag instead of the market for his services. Before the deadline for using the tag, Cousins and his agent have no reason to accept less than $23.94 million for the first year and an equivalent amount (or maybe something closer to $34.47 million) for the second year. After the deadline passes and if the tag isn’t applied, the question then becomes how much Washington will offer in relation to what another team would put on the table.
The problem with that approach is that, without applying the tag, Washington has no way to prevent him from taking another deal elsewhere — even if another team offers him less. Likewise, Washington will have no way to trade Cousins, since he will become a free agent at the same moment a trade could have occurred.
That’s why the approach could be to tag and trade Cousins. This strategy would require plenty of behind-the-scenes work before the tag deadline, with Washington working out trade terms with another team and with the other team working out a long-term deal with Cousins. Without that, and given that Cousins will immediately sign the franchise tender once it’s applied, Washington could be stuck with paying nearly $24 million to Cousins for what could be his last year with the team.