With Tuesday’s deadline for the franchise tag designation fast approaching, Washington Redskins officials and Kirk Cousins‘s agent remain in discussions towards landing the quarterback a long-term deal. However, it appears unlikely that the two sides will reach an agreement by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
In that case, the Redskins would likely use the franchise tag to retain Cousins for the 2016 season, committing to pay him a salary of $19.953 million, all of which would immediately count against the salary cap.
As of Monday morning, Redskins officials hadn’t yet given up hope that the two sides could reach a pact on a multi-year deal, which in turn would give Washington greater financial flexibility under the salary cap, and Cousins long-term stability. Team officials and Cousins’s agent, Mike McCartney, had agreed to remain in talks up until the deadline.
However, according people with knowledge of the talks, nothing has changed regarding the stance in Cousins’s camp. Confident in his worth, potential and appeal to opposing teams, they had no interest in signing a multi-year deal at this time. The preference was for Cousins to test the market and gauge his worth, although the understanding was that the Redskins likely would use the franchise tag to protect themselves.
It’s believed that Washington would use the non-exclusive franchise tag, which would enable them to retain Cousins’s rights, but allow the quarterback to talk to other teams. If a team gave Cousins an offer, Washington would have the right to match that deal, and if team officials opted against doing so, the Redskins would receive two first-round draft picks from Cousins’s new team as compensation.
Another option involves the use of the transition tag instead of the franchise tag.
Using the transition tag would mean committing to a salary of roughly $17.696 million for the 2016 season. Other teams can negotiate with Cousins, and the Redskins would have seven days to match any offer. If they did not, they would receive no compensation. The other drawback of using the transition tag is that Washington would essentially allow another team to set the market and begin a bidding war. The Redskins would have to be confident in what the market value for Cousins would be, but it’s possible that another team could come out of nowhere with a surprise offer that the Redskins couldn’t match.
People familiar with the team’s deliberations said over the weekend that the use of the transition tag seemed like a most unlikely scenario.
And last week, Coach Jay Gruden said that he was confident that Cousins would remain on the roster in 2016 either by the use of the franchise tag, or the agreement to a long-term deal.
Using the franchise tag would mean a higher salary-cap hit, but would provide greater security for Washington. And the team and Cousins could continue to negotiate toward a long-term deal up until July 15.
Washington currently has around $19 million in salary cap space. The impending release of Robert Griffin III would clear off another $16.155 million off the books, but Cousins’s $19.953 million in cap space would replace and surpass that. The team is expected to restructure the contract of safety Dashon Goldson, who has an $8 million cap hit for 2016, as well as several other higher-paid veterans on the roster.
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