Though Washington appears committed to retaining Kirk Cousins as its starting quarterback, the two sides may be headed toward the franchise tag rather than a multiyear contract. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the team and signal caller have broken off contract talks with no further discussions currently planned.
Washington general manager Scot McCloughan previously stated that he preferred to ink Cousins to a multiyear contract rather than apply the franchise tag.
"Of course you'd rather not (use the franchise tag), you'd rather get a long-term deal done, but we have a lot of options we're dealing with right now and that's one of them," McCloughan told the Washington Post last month.
Head coach Jay Gruden benched former Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III for Cousins before the start of the 2015 season. After a slow start, the gambit paid off as Cousins led the NFL in completion percentage (69.8) and finished with over 4,100 passing yards, 29 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. Washington rode the 27-year-old quarterback to a 9-7 regular season record and NFC East division title, the team's first since 2012. Cousins' rookie contract expires this offseason.
Washington has until March 1 to apply the franchise tag, though it'd still have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal with Cousins. In quarterback negotiations, the tag often serves to extend the negotiation period rather than end discussions altogether. Still, it reduces the options for those receiving it, which explains why most players oppose its use.
In either case, Cousins can expect to earn somewhere in the range of $20 million for 2016, a salary not unusual for top-tier quarterbacks.