The Washington Redskins have decided to tag quarterback Kirk Cousins but are still deliberating on whether to use a franchise or transition tag, according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Schefter’s tweet essentially confirms what most have been expecting. Cousins is coming off of a solid season in which he threw for a franchise-record 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns while leading the league with a 69.8 percent completion rate.
The tag allows Washington to maintain its rights with Cousins and buys time to come up with, ideally, a multi-year deal before the mid-summer deadline.
The dearth of viable starting quarterbacks figuring to hit the free-agent market escalates Cousins’ value. Robert Griffin III is the only QB on the roster wiith a contract for next season, but the Redskins are expected to release the former starter by March 9 rather than pick up his option for $16.1 million next season.
The Redskins can opt to use an exclusive franchise tag, a non-exclusive franchise tag or a transition tag. The exclusive tag would guarantee Cousins' a one-year contract worth no less than the average of the top-five quarterback salaries this season, which projects to be roughly $19.6 million. It would also stipulate that Cousins can't negotiate with other teams.
Of the two subsets of franchise tags, the most commonly used is the non-exclusive option. If the Redskins use a franchise tag instead of a transition tag on Cousins, they'll more than likely go the non-exclusive route. The non-exclusive tag translates to the same salary offer but would grant Cousins the ability to negotiate with other clubs. The Redskins would retain the right to match any offer and would be compensated with two future first-round draft picks if they choose not to match an offer.
Finally, if the Redskins use a transition tag on Cousins, the salary offer would amount to no less than the average of the top 10, rather than top five, salaries at the position. The transition tag projects to be $17.5 million for the quarterback position, and if Washington goes this route, they would still retain the right of first refusal to match another team's offer. The downside, though, is if they decide not to match the other team's offer, the Redskins wouldn't receive compensatory draft picks.
At the end of the day, the Redskins still have a decision to make. But, if Schefter's report is correct, the odds of Cousins leaving Washington just became even slimmer.
Dan Roth is a freelance sportswriter and Breaking Burgundy contributor. Follow Dan on Twitter @danrothdc.
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