Negotiations between the Redskins and Kirk Cousins broke down last year as the two sides were far apart on money. Washington offered as much as $16 million per year in a long-term deal, but the Cousins' camp rebuffed those offers before the organization placed the franchise tag on their quarterback for the 2016 season.
With the countdown on for the team to decide to use the franchise tag for the 2017 season before the March 1 deadline, the 'Skins must again decide what they are willing to offer Cousins in a multi-year contract. ESPN's Andrew Brandt, speaking with ESPN980's Kevin Sheehan on Thursday morning, explained that Washington brass is not expected to go to the top of the quarterback market.
"The Redskins are in a position of strength on the long-term aspect," Brandt said. "A long-term deal can happen if Kirk Cousins' camp is willing to not negotiate on the level of the franchise tag number. That did not happen last year."
Last year that meant the Cousins camp wanted the deal to start at $20 million per season, the amount guaranteed by the franchise tag. This year, that number jumps to $24 million.
Many have used the Andrew Luck contract, and it's $87 million guaranteed, signed last year as a barometer for what Cousins should make, regardless if the Washington passer is as good as the Colts QB. Brandt disagreed.
"They don’t have to be a slave to the Andrew Luck deal," he said.
Brandt made clear he doesn't expect the Redskins to "negotiate with the top of the market" and that if the Cousins camp demands to be paid at that level, expect another contract impasse.
Last year's negotiations followed a similar pattern, in that the team and the player were miles away from a compromise when it came to annual salary and guaranteed money. Redskins' decision makers have already showed they are willing to use the tag, and in 2017, it again seems like a viable option.
Cousins spoke earlier this year about his desire to be paid at the top of his worth, both for his own contract and for quarterbacks down the road. Interestingly, Brandt didn't believe the market for Cousins quite matches the "hysteria" suggested by fans and some media.
"Much more hyped than the reality will show," he said. "I don’t think somebody's going to put together this massive Kirk Cousins' contract."
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