clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Washington is reportedly considering franchise-tagging Kirk Cousins. That’d be so dumb

Washington could throw a wrench into the Kirk Cousins free agency sweepstakes this offseason.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The starting quarterback for Washington for 2018 and beyond is Alex Smith. But that apparently doesn’t mean the team is ready to let Kirk Cousins walk into free agency without reviewing its options first.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the franchise tag is a possibility for Cousins, although it would only be used to give Washington the chance to trade the quarterback.

Washington team president Bruce Allen is reportedly serious enough about the possibility that he has asked around to see if other NFL executives think it would be smart. Spoiler: It wouldn’t be.

A third consecutive franchise tag for Cousins would mean the quarterback is set to make a $34.5 million fully guaranteed salary in 2018.

Why franchising Kirk Cousins would make sense

The logic for Washington is simple: trades get you something, losing a player in free agency doesn’t.

Well ... not exactly. Cousins getting a blockbuster deal from another team would definitely land Washington a compensatory pick at the end of the third round in the 2019 NFL Draft.

If Washington gives Cousins the franchise tag, it could attempt to sell him to the highest bidder. Ideally, they’d land more compensation than just a pick that barely cracks the top 100 and is more than a year away.

Yes, $34.5 million is an absurd salary that would probably make a trade more difficult. But whichever team acquires Cousins is going to want to negotiate a long-term deal with the quarterback that makes him the highest-paid player in the NFL, anyway.

Why franchising Kirk Cousins doesn’t make sense

Any team interested in trading for Cousins would have to cross its fingers that the quarterback would be fine playing for anything less than $34.5 million.

Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions currently leads the league with an average salary of $27 million. Cousins will almost certainly eclipse that, but anything over $30 million per year is in an entirely different stratosphere of pay. Maybe a team is willing to pay an eye-popping amount, but more than $34.5 million?!

Maybe Cousins would be willing to take a long-term contract with an average less than that number. Maybe he wouldn’t. If he doesn’t and plays under the franchise tag, he’d be locked into a one-year deal and set to hit free agency in March 2019.

It’s also not the nicest thing to do to a quarterback who wouldn’t be able to shop his talents on the open market and instead rely on Washington to broker his next landing spot. If he wanted to get the team back, all Cousins would have to do is avoid signing his franchise tender until after the July deadline to negotiate long-term contracts, locking him in to a one-year, $34.5 million deal.

Essentially, Washington giving Cousins the franchise tag could mean the team is stuck with a quarterback it doesn’t want. And he’d be a quarterback who doesn’t have much trade value because teams probably won’t be jumping through hoops for a ridiculously expensive one-year loaner who’s set to hit free agency in 2019.

Don’t overthink this, Washington.

Smith is your quarterback and Cousins isn’t. Just take your 2019 third-round pick and be done with it.