The Redskins, perhaps begrudgingly, have a quarterback for 2017, if they want him.
Washington franchise-tagged Kirk Cousins on Tuesday, a day ahead of the deadline, for a second straight season, still unwilling to let go of a quarterback who led them to the NFL East title in 2015, still unwilling to fully commit to a quarterback with an underwhelming arm coming off an 8-7-1 season. The tag — 120 percent of the previous year’s pay, because that’s higher than the average of the salary of the top five players at his positions — would be worth $23.94 million, according to The MMQB.
Cousins is the first quarterback in NFL history to be tagged in consecutive seasons — this time around, however, it’s the exclusive franchise tag. The 28-year-old will not be allowed to negotiate with teams that could throw more money and security his way, as he could have a year ago. A QB-needy team like, say, the 49ers, who plucked Atlanta (and former Washington) offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to become their head coach, might have negotiated with the 2012 fourth-rounder and signed him to an offer sheet.
If Cousins were to be traded, in fact, according to ESPN, he would prefer to head to San Francisco, reuniting with his first offensive coordinator. Now, a trade is the only way he’s getting there.
The Redskins have been reluctant to hand the franchise over to the former Michigan State star, uncertain if he’s the answer. But in sitting directly atop the fence, they forked over nearly $20 million last season and would be on the hook for roughly $24 million this year, paying a heavy price for being gun-shy.
The two sides have until July 15 to hammer out a long-term deal, at which point the Redskins could swallow the millions and let Cousins quarterback their team again, or seek a trade. (As a warning: Teams have been hammered recently for trading a Cousins.)
With the exclusive tag, Cousins’ future in the hands of the Redskins — who have no idea what to do with him.
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