The Washington Redskins have committed to Kirk Cousins as their starting quarterback. Sort of. Per reports, the Redskins have assigned the non-exlusive franchise tag to last year’s starting quarterback, which nets Cousins a guaranteed $19 million for the 2016 NFL season and gives the two sides four months to hammer out a long-term deal.
Sources: The franchise tag the #Redskins are using on Kirk Cousins will be a non-exclusive franchise tag.
— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) March 1, 2016
The move is a sign that Washington is ready to move forward with Cousins as their guy under center, but it also dares another team to pry him out of D.C. for a cost. That cost would be two first round draft picks. Cousins is free to negotiate long-term contracts with any other team, but the non-exclusive tag gives them the ability to match any offer he’d agree to. Should the offer be too high, the Redskins would then be permitted to pass on signing Cousins and would be awarded two first round draft picks.
This does mean Washington remains high on Cousins, but it suggests they’d be open to the idea of a team over-paying him and handing them two very valuable assets. Per reports, Cousins is expected to sign “immediately” and the two sides can then work together over the next four months to figure out what a long-term contract would look like. Teams with major quarterback needs like the Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams could potentially still factor into the mix if they end up discussing a possible deal with Cousins, but it’s extremely likely the signing of the non-exlusive tender keeps him in D.C.
You Like That?
Cousins was looking like a shaky bet to start off 2015, as he was almost a replacement for the struggling Robert Griffin III by default and was rather inconsistent out of the gates. Cousins responded with some gem performances over the course of the season, however, seemingly growing more comfortable and confident in Jay Gruden’s offensive scheme as the year went on. That played a huge hand in Cousins posting career highs across the board, impressively notching 29 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions, 4,166 passing yards and five rushing touchdowns. Cousins did a fantastic job of taking what the defense gave him over time, and made good use of deep threat DeSean Jackson and versatile tight end, Jordan Reed.
Cousins’ strong 2015 showing wasn’t restricted to just hallow numbers, either. Cousins performed quite strong in the clutch several times, even one time producing a viral Vine when he yelled “you like that?!” at the media following a comeback win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On top of that, Cousins even helped Washington close the season strong, winning the final four games to claim the NFC East title. That earned the team a playoff appearance, where they went back and forth with the Green Bay Packers, before eventually running out of steam in a home loss in the wild card round.
Cousins wasn’t the reason for Washington’s playoff exit in the end, and did much more good than bad in what was initially a trial run as the starter. That trial run took one step closer to being a permanent gig on Tuesday morning and with former franchise passer RG3 already with one foot out the door, it may not be long before Cousins signs on the dotted line for years to come.
Given the success Cousins saw in just one season at the helm, it’s conceivable to think he could improve in another year in Gruden’s system. That could bode well for the Redskins, who remain in a fairly weak division and have a good amount of talent on both sides of the ball. Keeping continuity at the most important position should only help the Redskins’ plight to make the playoffs a regular happening in Washington.