As if they haven’t mishandled him enough, Washington may try to further restrict quarterback Kirk Cousins’ ability to sign elsewhere.
Via ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Washington is considering placing the franchise tag on Cousins once again, with the idea of trading him and getting something in return for the 29-year-old. Schefter cited league sources in his reporting.
Placing the tag on Cousins for a third straight year would keep him from becoming a true unrestricted free agent, which it appeared he would become after the surprising trade last week of Alex Smith from Kansas City to Washington.
But apparently, Washington might not be done screwing with Cousins, who led the team to a 24-23-1 record and one playoff appearance in three full seasons as starter.
Tagging Cousins, however, is a gamble for Washington, as the player could actually wield some power: no trade could be executed until Cousins signs the franchise tag, and he could dictate which teams he’d want to play for – perhaps the John Elway-run Denver Broncos – or even the length of the contract he’d be willing to sign.
Until Cousins signs the tag, Washington would be on the hook for the amount of his tag, which, because he was tagged last year, would be approximately $34.5 million, or 120 percent of his 2017 salary. If he doesn’t get the team or terms he wants, Cousins could delay things for months, significantly affecting Washington’s salary cap.
By rule, teams that sign a franchise-tagged player must give up two first-round draft picks, though that can be negotiated – in 2009, the Patriots tagged Matt Cassel and sent both Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick, signing Cassel to a new contract.
If Washington simply lets Cousins walk as a free agent, it would likely receive a third-round compensatory pick in 2019.
The window to designate franchise players opens on February 20.