With Washington applying the exclusive franchise tag to quarterback Kirk Cousins, which will cost them no more than his 20-percent raise over last year’s $19.95 million tender (i.e., $23.94 million), Cousins can’t negotiate with other teams. Which means that Washington controls his rights completely and entirely. If a trade is going to happen, it’s going to be initiated by or through the team, not by or through Cousins.
Of course, none of this means Cousins’ agent won’t talk to a team like, say, the 49ers in order to negotiate the parameters of an acceptable contract for Cousins. (It’s tampering, but it happens.) That contract won’t be executed, however, unless and until Washington trades Cousins. Which means that Washington will need an offer that motivates them to make the move.
So what will it take? One source with knowledge of the dynamics suggested that Washington will need to be “blown away,” and that team president Bruce Allen will specifically be thinking of what the team gave up five years ago to get quarterback Robert Griffin III.
That time around, Washington swapped three first-round picks and a second-round picks for the No. 2 overall selection, which they used to take Griffin. Surely, Allen won’t want three ones and a two for Cousins; however, the haul the team surrendered for Griffin suggests that Washington won’t be simply giving Cousins away.
Some would say Washington can’t have it both ways. On one hand, they don’t want to pay Cousins franchise-quarterback money on a long-term deal. On the other hand, they want franchise-quarterback compensation for him in trade.
Ultimately, it comes down to whether another team (the 49ers) will give Cousins what he wants and whether Washington will insist on what it wants or will simply take what it can get for a guy that Washington can’t keep from hitting the market in 2018 unless they want to give him a 44-percent raise over $23.94 million. Which would be $34.47 million. Which Washington won’t be paying Cousins in 2018 — unless he becomes both the league MVP and the Super Bowl MVP.
In other words, Washington won’t be paying $34.47 million to Cousins in 2018.