Report: Washington will “consider” applying franchise tag to Kirk Cousins

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It’s the last football Sunday of the year. Which means that it’s the last chance for the people who cover football to make a Sunday Splash. Which means it’s Caddy Day at Bushwood Country Club.

Which means it’s time to be on the lookout for a little doody in the pool.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Washington will “consider” applying the franchise tag to quarterback Kirk Cousins. The goal would be to trade him to another team and to recover some of the compensation that will be sacrificed as part of the deal to acquire Alex Smith from the Chiefs.

Using the word “consider” is the ultimate reporting safe harbor. Washington doesn’t have to actually do it for the report to be right; they only have to consider it. And there’s no way to prove the report wrong, because Washington has no reason to shout down the report by declaring the team won’t consider it.

Even if they consider it, the move would be a stupid one, for 34.47 million reasons.

That’s the price of the third consecutive franchise tag this year for Cousins, a 44-percent raise over his $23.94 million salary in 2016 under Tag Two. It means that Washington would carry $34.47 million in cap space under Cousins’ name when the new league year begins on March 14. More importantly, it also means that Washington would be stuck with $34.47 million in both cash and cap obligations if Cousins promptly signs the franchise tender, making the one-year contract fully guaranteed.

And why wouldn’t he sign it? Sure, he’s currently fascinated with the idea of being the first healthy franchise quarterback to hit the open market unfettered, with the Broncos, Vikings, Cardinals, and Jets all possibly clamoring for his services. But none of them will be offering Cousins a contract that pays him an average anywhere close to $34.47 million per year.

Besides, Washington can’t trade him until he signs the tender. Which means that Cousins would have to be willing to fully cooperate with the team’s effort to game the system by trading him.

As a source with knowledge of the dynamics told PFT in the aftermath of the news that Washington would be trading for Smith, the tag-and-trade concept simply doesn’t work for Cousins. First, whatever a team is willing to pay Cousins on the open market necessarily will be reduced by whatever that team has to surrender in trade. Which means Cousins makes less if he cooperates with a tag-and-trade scenario. Second, Cousins’ new team would lose assets — player(s) or pick(s) — that would make it harder for that team to compete and win once Cousins arrives.

Ultimately, it becomes a game of both chess and chicken. Is Cousins willing to surrender his chance to cash in right now for another $34.47 million to stay in Washington for what would be only one more year? Is Washington willing to pay Cousins $34.47 million for one more year and either renege on the Smith trade or keep both Smith and Cousins on the roster for one year, at a gigantic combined cash and cap commitment?

Given the way Cousins has played chess/chicken over the last two years, it would be a shock if he’s the one to blink. He has made $44 million over two years doing the franchise-tag dance. If Washington wants to push it to nearly $80 million over three, why should he say no? Especially since he’d definitely get that shot at the open market in 2019, when it would cost $49.6 million to tag him again — if the CBA even allows a fourth tag.

So, basically, there’s a very real chance we’ll all eventually look back on this one in a month or so and say, “It’s no big deal.”

34 responses to “Report: Washington will “consider” applying franchise tag to Kirk Cousins

  1. The Redskins should not play chess with “kurt” He has beat them
    on every move so far. But I am all for drama with the Skins so
    Please Tag him I dare ya!

  2. He’s not a “Franchise” QB and the only person in the RS org in the last 20 years with any eye for talent knows it(McCloughan)….Brady, Brees, Rodgers, etc……Cousins is not in that conversation. He’s a nice QB that can maybe win a SB with a great team around him. That’s about it.

  3. I don’t get this franchise. The last 20 plus years, Rypien, Frerotte, Green, Cousins, and Brad Johnson have been their best QB’s. Not a #1 pick in the bunch, Yet they always want to run them out of town for the Shuler/Griffin types.

  4. I would love for the redskins to do this and just have it blow up in there face and stuck paying both QBs lol. I think cousins is a franchise QB or close to it, his receivers/RBs were cut/traded/injured. His o line was gone (4/5ths of them were injured) and he still had Good QB numbers. I think it’s crazy how bad he wants out of that organization, like why does he hate it so much there?

  5. Wow! Sign the tag if offered; sit on the bench next season; make guaranteed $34+ mil riding the pine. Life is strange.

  6. Good luck trading any player with a ~$35 million salary. It would be impossible to even give one away at that price.

  7. I would love to see the Redskins try and have Cousins sign it and cripple their salary cap. Go ahead ‘Skins…commit 50M of your cap on 2 players. With one not even playing!

  8. People don’t realize, when a QB plays in places like Washington or Cleveland, it’s hard to judge their talent level because of the horrific state of the organizations. Brady or Ben, or any Rodgers would look mediocre in Washington. Put Cousins on a team like Pitt, or my team, the Broncos, & he would look much better.

  9. Bogus coverage and insults on Cousins – the FACT was that Washington offered a horrible contract to Cousins that would have put enormous obligations on Cousins but would have given the team so much latitude in what to do with him that it was reprehensible what they offered; furthermore, they basically guaranteed what he had already been paid and then offered him substantially less annual pay.

    This Redskins team is disgusting – and I am/was a fan – Cousins has been screwed over year after year – and the lies about the Great Gimmick being treated the same way are pure myth.

  10. This would be a disaster on so many levels. They have had have already botched the situation enough. Time to cut bait and move on.

  11. I LOVE seeing badly run teams.
    I so hope they tag him.
    Kirk should be happy with that too.
    Then having earned 80MM in 3 years, and some financial stability, he can look for a good team and not have to seek top dollar.

  12. They are only doing that to create a demand for Cousins that would make teams do what they did for Smith. They want multiple people calling them up to see if they can get Cousins before free agency begins. They are hoping some DUMB team will want this guy because of the hype and think they will fall into that trap of cutting a deal cousins would sign in a trade deal now!! They hope to get something out of it I guess. They don’t have to tag cousins IF he wants to gauge the market early. This could drive up his price. As it may go down during free agency. Cousins could sign any kind of contract that was conditional for 2018 and that would be enough. No team is going to fall for that bait. This just gets some dumb dumb thinking about approaching them I guess.

    They would be smarter to just cut their losses and get this guy out of their minds. He is draining at this point. I mean seriously, he hasn’t even won any thing. So everything is just pure projection about his capabilities to win in the NFL. Alex Smith as proven he can win a playoff game. And for this guy to be in the conversation with Peyton Manning and his resume sometimes makes me think people are living in fantasy football land these days. Stats are not even enough. You have to make smart decisions at tough moments and Kirk’s record is NOT at all impressive in this area.

  13. The vendetta is that Snyder wanted Griffin for splash and ticket sales. Shanahan wanted the more solid, overall well rounded QB in Cousins.

    Shanahan lost that battle and was fired. Griffin predictably got injured multiple times with that playing style. Washington was never high on Cousins and they treated him in spiteful fashion all along because their splash move never worked out.

    Cousins playing relatively well despite attempts to sabotage him only made the owner and front office look even worse, and they’re still not done making themselves look like fools as relates to Cousins.

  14. He signs it and they owe him 37 million.
    They cut him and he gets that 37 million plus another 15-25 a year from another team.
    That would be 54 million against the cap at the QB position.

    If they trade him to Cleveland, he is a UFA the following year or they have to pay him 44 million (if it is even possible to Franchise him 4x in a row)

    Dan Snyder is the one who has been drinking.
    Cousins will sign immediately if they are that stupid.
    He would make about 45% more than the next highest player in the NFL.

    Its not leverage if you are using it to drop a boulder on your head.

  15. “It’s the last football Sunday of the year.”


    I don’t think so. I sure there will be games later this year.

  16. Don’t listen to Adam, he’s a total crackpot. I’m his source for this story, and only because I’ve been repeating it for a whole year. I’m the worst source out there.

    As an aside, I never used the word ‘stupid’ to describe the Redskins. I always used ‘insane’. That part is absolutely true…which is why they’re going to slap a tag on Cousins again.

  17. The Skins obviously think the rest of the league is as bad as poker players as they are. Everyone can see their hand, and they are drawing dead on the Potomac River. Kurt ain’t bluffing.

  18. Sure. Because teams will be lining up to pay Cousins over $30 million a year. Washington has bungled this situation in an almost unimaginable fashion.

  19. There is no way this happens. Ot would screw up free agency and the cap. No team would trade for Cousins with a $34 million cap hit when they can simply wait for the Redskins to cut him. No way…

    I hope…

  20. All these comments are just plain pointless. Not one person outside Florio and the idiot who reported this from ESPN is saying this will happen. No need to do it. The Redskins gave up a third and a CORNERBACK, they will get a 3rd back in compensary pick. So in essence it was Smith for Fuller.
    There’s no truth to this, all it was is to get clicks and read credits for internet media and all you guys feel for it. Lol stop taking everything printed as God’s word, it’s a rumor and no way true. Think about it, Redskins had 56 mill in cap,after Smith becomes official they are down to 39 mill, they resigned two players earlier so they are closer to 37 mill. Tag cousins cost 35 mill or so and leaving 2 mill in cap?

    No way this RUMOR is true, so stop getting your panties all uptight people.

  21. He should sign it immediately, which will guarantee his salary for the year, then refuse to negotiate a long term deal with suitors. Nobody will trade for him if he refuses to negotiate, and the skins cant cut him at that point, they have to pay him that money which will ruin their ability to sign free agents and draft picks. He can ride the pine for 35 mil and watch the Skins front office drown in their stupidity.

  22. I would like to see Cousins play in Arizona, Minnesota, or Denver. He would be an instant upgrade over blake bortles in jacksonville.

    Just imagine if they offered him $20 million a year a couple of years back, no they wanted to low ball him for 16, then the next year they offered him 20 or something, and he wanted 23.

    But if the tag him, I wouldnt play nice this time around I would sign the sunday or something of week 1. I wouldnt want to risk getting injuried in preseason or training camp and Washington would have the least trade value power possible.

    Look they let him walk by the CBA they are guaranteed to get comped a 3rd round pick, they are probably not going to do better than that via trade.

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