Kirk Cousins apparently isn’t going to get what he wants. Yesterday we passed along news that Washington had broken off contract talks with its quarterback and now we have more context for that decision.
Cousins is set to hit free agency in a few weeks and is coming off a career year. Apparently the negotiations between the two sides haven’t been contentious, but Washington has been firm that it won’t offer the 27-year-old a long-term deal any time soon.
If Cousins and Washington continue to remain far apart in talks, it becomes more and more likely that the team will slap the franchise tag on him. The problem is that the tag for a quarterback this 2016 has been estimated at $19.6 million. That’s an enormous chunk of the salary cap for Cousins to take up, especially because he doesn’t have a long track record of success.
In 2015 Cousins led Washington to a 9-7 record and an NFC East title. In the process he led the NFL in completion percentage (69.8) and set franchise records in completions (379) and passing yards (4,166). He also threw 29 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions and ranked fifth in the NFL in quarterback rating (101.6). It was a great year for the Michigan State product, but apparently it wasn’t enough to earn him the long-term, high-value deal he covets.
Washington is obviously wary of trusting one year of success from a quarterback. The franchise did that with Robert Griffin III and it has turned out to be a disastrous move. The team is right to be cautious, but given that it has nothing else on its roster under center and the price of tagging Cousins, a long-term deal or some sort of compromise might be Washington’s only recourse.
Cousins and his agent have the team in an awful position. He can basically ask for whatever he wants, because if he doesn’t get it, Washington has to give him that franchise tag, which means he’ll make nearly $20 million next season.
Both sides seem firm in their stances, so this could drag out for months. As of now expect Cousins to be tagged while Washington tries to figure out a long-term plan.