Quarterback Kirk Cousins is, perhaps, the top NFL player scheduled for unrestricted free agency in March.
But if Washington is unable to sign Cousins to a long-term contract before the start of the free-agent signing period, the club appears likely to place the franchise tag on him for the second year in a row.
Washington coach Jay Gruden appeared to confirm that suspicion on Tuesday while speaking to reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
"We totally anticipate Kirk coming back to (Washington)," Gruden said via CSN Mid-Atlantic. "We're excited about parlaying two very good years as the starting quarterback with a third year and continue to watch him grow."
But does Gruden anticipate another team willing the pay the price it would take to acquire Cousins?
If Washington places the franchise tag on Cousins at approximately $24 million for one season, another team could sign him to an long-term offer sheet and pay the price of two first-round draft picks as compensation.
The 49ers – and presumptive head coach Kyle Shanahan -- are expected to be interested in acquiring Cousins. If the cost of two first-round draft picks is considered exorbitant, the 49ers could attempt to negotiate another deal with Washington.
Washington can end any possibility that the 49ers or any other team could acquire Cousins this offseason if they tag him as an exclusive franchise player at a cost expected to be slightly higher than $24 million.
Cousins, who turns 29 in August, started every game the past two seasons for Washington. In 2015, he completed 69.8 percent of his pass attempts while throwing 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a passer rating of 101.6. Last season, he finished third in the NFL behind Drew Brees and Matt Ryan with 4,917 yards. He averaged 8.1 yards per attempt and had a rating of 97.2.