Look at the headline above. A year ago nobody would have believed that that “Kirk Cousins” and “franchise tag” would appear in the same headline at any point in time. For that matter, nobody would have believed it six months ago, which was a couple of weeks before Jay Gruden declared, “It’s Kirk’s team” and Cousins became both the present and future for the Redskins.
Today is the first day that the quarterback and tag can move from a headline to a legal document in the form of a one-year contract tender. Teams can start franchising players at the open of business on February 16 and today is that day.
But I would say that it’s not necessary to check Twitter frequently or refresh your Facebook news feed over and over today to see if the Redskins have pulled the trigger on the tag. They have two weeks to continue to work on a long-term contract for Cousins before the deadline to tag players, which is March 1 at 4 p.m. They will use every bit of that time if they have to as they see a multi-year deal preferable to the one-year tag.
The tag would give Cousins a one-year contract worth about $19.6 million. The contract becomes fully guaranteed once Cousins signs it. He could refuse to sign it and sit out OTAs and minicamp in an effort to create some leverage towards a long-term contract. It seems unlikely that Cousins would do this since he has just one year as a starter under his belt and he needs to work but he would have the option. If the tag is used the player and team would have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract. After that date the tag is locked in for the year.
It was reported recently that the Redskins and Cousins are "far apart" in their negotiations for a new deal. This to be expected. With two weeks to go there is really no reason for the team or Cousins' agent to move much. If we're still hearing that a day or two before March 1 then there might be cause for some concern that a new deal will get done.
Regardless, the Redskins are nearly certain to use the tag on Cousins if they don’t reach a deal. If they don’t tag him his agent would be able to talk contract with any team starting on March 7 and he would be able to sign with any team starting at 4 p.m. on March 9. Since it appears that the Redskins are going to part ways with Robert Griffin III, a Cousins departure would leave them without a starting quarterback. They will not risk that happening.