The Redskins have placed the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins, two sources confirmed to CSN. The move ends weeks of speculation and virtually assures that Cousins will be the starter in Week 1.
The deadline for tagging players is today at 4 p.m.
The franchise tag for quarterbacks is a one-year deal worth about $20 million dollars. Cousins earned about $660,000 last season—the final year of his rookie deal—as he directed the Redskins to a 9-7 record and the NFC East championship. Grant Paulsen of 106.7 the Fan first reported the news.
Under the non-exclusive tag, the Redskins own the first right of refusal and have until July 15th to continue negotiating a long-term deal with Cousins' agent.
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Cousins can, however, sign an offer sheet with another team in the meantime. If the Redskins opt not to match the offer, the team that signed Cousins will owe Washington two first round draft picks.
Because of the cost—in terms of dollars and draft picks—it is unlikely that another team would swoop in with an offer sheet for Cousins. The 27-year-old possesses a lot of potential but he has performed consistently at a high level for only about half a season.
Overall, in fact, Cousins has an 11-14 record as a starter, though he put himself in position for a big payday with a strong second half last season. In leading the Redskins to wins in seven of their final 10 regular season games, Cousins threw 23 touchdown passes and only three interceptions.
So, assuming another team does not get involved, Cousins figures to be under center when the Redskins open the 2016 season.
The only question now is whether he’ll be playing on the franchise tag or a long-term extension that his agent and GM Scot McCloughan negotiate over the coming weeks and, perhaps, months.
McCloughan has repeatedly said he prefers hammering out a multi-year deal that would exchange long-term security for a cap hit in 2016 that’s lower than the $20 million tag.
“The option we have if not doing the franchise tag is the fact that I have more money in free agency to take care of [needs] at some spots,” McCloughan said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “It could be defense, it could be special teams, but makes the team stronger, gives us the opportunity to win. And when it’s all said and done with the quarterback, you’re not measured on the monetary value you made, you’re measured on wins and losses and world championships.”