Kirk Cousins has been slapped with Washington’s franchise tag, and his agent has since met with the team to discuss a long-term deal. Washington’s front office previously offered Cousins a five-year contract worth $20 million annually. That deal is apparently still on the table, but Cousins shouldn’t settle for a pact of that kind. He has all the leverage in this situation and should demand far more.
Washington had ample opportunities to ink Cousins to a long-term contract and demurred. Last offseason, the 28-year-old quarterback would have taken $20 million a year, but the team’s offers maxed out at $16 million. Now Cousins is set to make nearly $24 million next season under the franchise tag and has no reason to sign a long-term deal for less money.
Cousins can play out this season then hit free agency next year as the hottest property on the market. If Washington wants to keep him in that case, the team would have to franchise tag him for a third time, which would net him $34.47 million for the 2018 season. There’s no way the team could afford to do that. With his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers making eyes at Cousins from across the country, the Michigan State product knows he’ll likely have at least one destination open to him.
With all that in mind, Cousins has Washington over a barrel. If the team doesn’t accede to his demands, it risks losing him for nothing after the 2017 season. That’s why I suggested the franchises should look to trade him unless the front office is 100 percent certain he’ll sign a long-term deal.
Cousins is incredibly popular in Washington and it would be a huge blow to the franchise if he walked away from the team. But the front office could justify the situation if it was able to net a huge haul of draft picks and/or players for him. If he leaves for nothing, the team’s management should all be sent to the unemployment line.
This has been bungled from the beginning and now Cousins has all the power. He should make Washington pay, and pay big for its massive screw up.