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Why would the Redskins consider using the transition tag on Cousins?

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Why would the Redskins consider using the transition tag on Cousins?

 According to a report, the Redskins are leaning towards using the transition tag on Kirk Cousins rather than the franchise tag. Why would they do that?

Both tags give the player a one-year salary that becomes guaranteed once he signs the tender offer. For quarterbacks, it’s $19.9 million for the franchise, $17.6 million for the transition. In both cases the player is free to go out on the open market and get contract offers. He can choose one of the offers and take it back to his current team and they decide if they want to match it or not. If they match he stays with his original team. If they decline to do so, he goes to a new team.

This point is where the two tags differ. Under the franchise tag, a team that declines to match the offer gets two first-round draft picks as compensation. Under transition, the team that loses the player gets no compensation.

So, again, why would the Redskins do that? They save $2.3 million but they lose compensation if they choose not to match an offer.

The reason a team would use the transition tag is that they can get a better idea of the player’s value. The two first-round picks that another team would have to pay in addition to a contract so large that the Redskins would not match it. The franchise tag rarely results in serious contract talks, much less offer sheets.

According to multiple reports the Redskins and Cousins’ camp are far apart in what they believe to be Cousins’ value. Cousins’ situation is unusual, as he put up franchise-type numbers in his fourth year in the league, the final year of his rookie contract. Prior to that his appearances were up and down. There just aren’t any comparable contracts to use as guidance in negotiations.

The best way to find out a player’s market value is to, well, put him out in the market. The transition tag does that without the factor of the draft pick price hanging over any negotiations.

Here is a potential scenario: The Redskins believe that Cousins’ agent is asking for much more than he would get from another team. They decide to let him go out and talk to other teams. Ideally for the team, the agent hears some lower numbers than the ones he has been proposing. After a few weeks the Redskins and Cousins’ camp resume negotiations with a much smaller gap between them. A deal is done before the draft at a price closer to what the team is offering than what Cousins is asking for. Both sides are comfortable with the deal because it’s based on the player’s actual market value.

Of course, a lot can go wrong here. A team with a lot of cap room could present an offer with a high first-round cap number, an offer that would put the Redskins in a very sticky situation when it comes to signing and retaining players. Or they could make an offer that for any number of reasons might not be acceptable to the Redskins.

It should be noted again that the report was that the Redskins are “leaning” towards the transition tag. And that is just one report; the Washington Post is reporting this morning that the team is more likely to use the franchise tag if they can’t reach agreement by the deadline, which comes at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

The bottom line is about money. If the Redskins believe that contract talks were going to go nowhere if he couldn’t see what his true market value is then they need to get him into the market. If that knowledge results in Cousins signing a five-year deal for an average of, say, $15 million per year instead of worth $20 million they will have saved $25 million in cap space that could be used to strengthen the team.

The risk, of course, is having a whole lot more cap money but starting all over again at the quarterback position. 

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 19, 23 days before NFL free agency starts.

Monday musings

—One possible solution to the left guard spot is perhaps being overlooked. Ty Nsekhe played there some last year, starting the game in Dallas and playing there until Morgan Moses got injured, forcing him to move to right tackle. Nsekhe is slated to be a restricted free agent but his return is likely. In December I asked Jay Gruden if Nsekhe might move to guard in 2018. “I think Ty is a big man and a very good tackle, but in the offseason when we have more time, maybe we can feature him at some guard when we’ve got all our guys back,” he said. “Feature him some” doesn’t mean that they will make him a starter; perhaps they want him to be the top option to fill in at four of the five OL positions. But it’s something to keep an eye on if they don’t land a left guard solution in free agency or the draft.

—When I posted about Albert Breer’s report that Kirk Cousins would file a grievance if the Redskins put the franchise tag on him in an effort to trade him, I pulled up a copy of the CBA to see the language on which Cousins could base his case. I read through the Article 10, which deals with the franchise tag twice and I saw nothing of it. But Mike Florio found it in Article 4, the one that deals with player contracts. “A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” Since the Redskins clearly have no intention of employing Cousins after the Alex Smith trade, this seems to be a fairly simple case. In reality, it never is.

—I tweeted this last week:

However, possible cap casualties from other teams are not included in that group. That won’t turn the pool of players who will become available to sign into a bunch of potential franchise changers. Still, there could be a number of players in whom the Redskins could be interested in like RB DeMarco Murray, WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Torrey Smith, edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, and DL Brandon Mebane. A plus to signing players who have been waived is that they don’t count in the formula that determines compensatory draft picks. The Redskins have never really paid attention to that in the past but with potential high comp picks at stake if they lose both Kirk Cousins and Bashaud Breeland, this could be a good year to start.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 10
—NFL Draft (4/26) 66
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 202

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