One part of the Kirk Cousins contract debate is over. Now comes the true negotiating.
The Washington Redskins placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on the free agent quarterback, according to Grant Paulsen with 106.7 The Fan.
Fans of the Redskins, know this: The team got this right.
By using the non-exclusive franchise tag, Cousins is guaranteed a one-year contract no less than the average of the top-five quarterback salaries this season. For 2016, that figure s $19,953,000 million according to information released Monday by the NFL Players Association.
This version of the Franchise tag also means Cousins can negotiate with other teams, but the Redskins have the right to match any offer. Washington would receive compensation in the form of two future first-round draft picks if it chooses not to match an offer. Both sides can negotiate a multiyear contract until July 15. After this date, Cousins could only sign a one-year contract.
The Redskins could have used the transition tag, meaning Cousins' would receive $17,696,000 million on a one-year deal. Other teams could negotiate with the QB, but in this version, Washington would not receive any compensation.
In his fourth season but first as starter, Cousins led the NFL in completion percentage, set several franchise records, including single-season passing yards and directed Washington to the NFC East title.
What this means: Again, this means the Redskins did the right thing. It's imporant to emphasize this point because of all the noise going on lately over other options. Using the Franchise tag is a total no-brainer because of simple supply and demand. There are more teams needing a quarterback then there are viable quarterbacks available. Washington risked joining that group if it let Cousins test the open market. Instead, the Redskins put themselves in position to match any offer -- again, Cousins can negotiate with other teams -- and receive picks in return should they pass.
It's highly likely no other team will come at Cousins for fear of giving up two first rounder's plus a lucrative contract. It's even more likely he remains with Washington, but the question now is at what cost. Ideally, the Redskins agree to a multiyear deal so they can spread out the guaranteed money.
Perhaps the real wild card is what does Cousins want? Yes, he was named starter in 2015, produced a playoff campaign and the memorable "You like that" moment. Those first three years in Washington, not nearly as warm and fuzzy playing behind Robert Griffin III, who is expected to be released by March 9. Sign a longer team deal and feel mentally secure for the first time entering a season or hold firm with a one-year deal that will pay more in 2016, but mean next season is another "prove it campaign."
All we can say for now is the Redskins made the move. That's a good sign.
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