It ain’t over til it’s over. But the Redskins’ time with Kirk Cousins at quarterback essentially ended at 4 p.m. today. The deadline for the team to give him the franchise tag came and went at and the Redskins did not utilize their tag.
In reality, the Cousins-Redskins relationship ended on January 30. That is when the news that the Redskins had traded for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith broke. Although the trade won’t become official until March 14, it became apparent that the Redskins were willing to move on from Cousins rather than get into a third round of playing the tag game with him.
After playing out his rookie contract in his first year as the Redskins’ starter in 2015, the team gave him the franchise tag at a cost of a one-year, $19.95 million. They tagged him again last year, guaranteeing him a 20 percent raise up to $23.94 million.
A third franchise tag would have been prohibitively expensive, a 44 percent raise which would have moved Cousins’ salary up to $34.5 million. The other way of keeping him on the team would have been to negotiate a long-term deal with him. But Cousins appeared to be reluctant to commit to staying in Washington and he said that he would not negotiate before the free agency period opened. Rather than risking being left without a quarterback, the Redskins made the Smith deal.
There were reports that the Redskins would try to put the tag on Cousins despite the Smith deal in an effort to work out a trade and get some compensation for the quarterback. But there were numerous obstacles to pulling off such a transaction and talk of the tag and trade faded as today’s deadline approached.
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