The Washington Redskins were unable to sign a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins on Monday, thus guaranteeing the quarterback will earn $24 million this season while playing under the franchise tag.
Washington president Bruce Allen took to Twitter to express frustration with the situation, saying that the team offered Cousins a contract that included $53 million in guaranteed money but that Cousins did not accept it. Allen also said that Cousins “made it clear” that he would like to play on a year-to-year basis.
Clearly, all is not well in Washington.
“Things are not fine,” NFL Network national insider Ian Rapoport said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “I think obviously Washington’s frustrated from a business standpoint. The other side of it is if Kirk Cousins had an offer that he considered, if he really considered one, then he would have responded. But what’s the point of a response? If the Redskins make a low offer paying him around what Joe Flacco makes on an extension from a long time ago, then what’s to respond to? So obviously it just didn’t make sense for Cousins to get into it, and so now he’s going to play on the tag.”
If Cousins plays under the transition tag in 2018, he would earn $28 million. If he plays under the franchise tag in 2018, he would earn $34 million.
Either way, his future in Washington is only guaranteed through 2017.
“They can’t do a long-term deal with him until after the season, so he is going to (earn) $24 million (this year),” Rapoport said. “Next year, they can transition him, which is $28 million, which gives them a chance to match any offer that any other team would make. They could franchise-tag him at $34 million, which basically means that he’s theirs and he’s not going to be able to negotiate with any other teams. The problem is that’s where contract-extension talks start, so that’s why Washington may not be willing to pay him that much.”
Washington has other options as well.
“The other option is just let him walk, go into free agency and hope he comes back – and if he doesn’t, you get a third-round pick,” Rapoport said. “The other option they could do is tag-and-trade him. The problem is, if they tag him at $34 million, he might just sign it and not want to go play anywhere else because he’s making $34 million. They’re really in a difficult spot, and I don’t know where the leverage is going to end up taking them. I really don’t. But the Redskins are certainly in trouble here in terms of finding an offer that makes sense for them next offseason.”
Cousins, who turns 29 in August, completed 67.0 percent of his passes for 4,917 yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season. It is impossible to know where he will play in 2018. If he leads the Redskins to the playoffs, the franchise likely won’t let him walk. If he struggles, though, he might accept a lower offer – from Washington or someone else.
“It’s just way too early to know,” Rapoport said. “I just know that they’re going to have the chance to sign him. They will have the chance. The other thing is, if it goes to the open market, I’m not sure it’s a bad situation for anyone. You get to see what his worth is – and that’s really not terrible.”