As Washington closes in on the deadline for deciding whether to apply the franchise tag for a second straight year to quarterback Kirk Cousins, the tag-and-trade option continues to percolate. If Washington goes that route, however, it won’t have many options.
John Keim of ESPN.com reports that Cousins would accept a trade only to the 49ers. It’s a match that flows clearly and obviously from the dot-connecting process sparked by former Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s emergence as the presumed successor to Chip Kelly in San Francisco.
So why would Cousins be able to block a trade to any other team? While, in theory, any player under contract can be traded anywhere (absent a no-trade clause), no team is going to give Washington significant compensation for a one-year, $23.94 million deal that has no security for the new team beyond 2017. It therefore becomes critical for any trade talks to include contract negotiations, so that the team that acquires Cousins from Washington will have him under contract for multiple years.
The real question, as posed here last week, is whether Cousins would take less than $53 million fully guaranteed over the first two years as part of a long-term deal with the 49ers. That amount, which reflects the 2017 tag and a 20-percent transition-tag raid for 2018, is what he’s believed to want in Washington in order to do a long-term deal. It’s unknown whether he’d give the 49ers a new-hometown discount in order to facilitate a trade.
If Cousins won’t take less, would the 49ers plunk down that much plus send one or more draft picks to Washington to get a quarterback who will be able to run the Shanahan offense? It’s an issue that will be resolved, if anywhere, this week in Indianapolis as all teams gather there for the Scouting Combine.