The big offseason storyline for the Redskins is what they'll do with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Washington has signaled that it plans to have Cousins back next year, but the way that happens is still up in the air.
Generally speaking, speculation has centered on whether the Redskins will sign Cousins to a long-term deal or use the franchise tag to keep him for 2017.
But according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, Washington should be able to keep the Michigan State product for two years using tags alone. The team could do that by using the franchise tag in 2017 and the lesser-known transition tag in 2018.
First Florio explains that using the franchise tag in 2017 and 2018 wouldn't make financial sense.
In 2017, the franchise tag would give Cousins a 20-percent raise over his $19.95 million franchise tag from 2016, which becomes $23.94 million for 16 games. Next year, the franchise tag would result in a 44-percent raise, which would be $34.47 million. This means that Washington, as a practical matter, wouldn’t use the franchise tag on Cousins in 2018 — if they use it in 2017.
However, what happens if the Redskins tag him in 2017, but still don't re-sign him to a long-term deal in 2018? They don't necessarily have to let him walk. Enter the transition tag.
Washington could apply the franchise tag this year and the transition tag in 2018. By rule, this would result in only a 20-percent increase over Cousins’ $23.94 million compensation in 2017. That approach would cost $28.78 million in 2018, but that would be nearly $6 million less than a third use of the franchise tag. More importantly, it would make the formula for a long-term deal based on the franchise tag more affordable (or less unaffordable) than it otherwise would be.
The snag with the transition tag is that, while Washington has the option to match any offer sheet Cousins receives from other teams, the team would not get any compensation if it declines to match and Cousins leaves.
There are reasons the Redskins could decide to go the tagging route instead of signing Cousins to a long-term deal. Example: What if the team drafts a developmental quarterback this year or next year, then decides that guy will be ready to start in 2019?
In summation, the tagging drama may not be over for Cousins this summer.
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