Just one day after Washington applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to quarterback Kirk Cousins, he reportedly decided to sign it. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Cousins will sign his tender Thursday morning. He's wasting no time before snatching up the biggest payday of his career.
The franchise tag for quarterbacks in 2016 is $19.95 million, while the transition tag is set at $17.7 million. Either way, that's a considerable raise for Cousins, who earned $660,000 last season after leading Washington to only its second NFC East win since 1999. The team broke off talks with Cousins on Feb. 16 after failing to come to terms on a new deal.
Robert Griffin III was under center the last time Washington captured the division in 2012, but Cousins beat him out for the starting job at the end of training camp. Head coach Jay Gruden announced Aug. 31 he thought Cousins was the best quarterback on the roster, and Cousins proved him to be right.
The 27-year-old Cousins led the league with a 69.8 completion percentage in 2015, throwing for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns. He was one of the best quarterbacks in football in the second half of the season, as he posted a 126.1 passer rating over the final eight games of the year.
Cousins didn't play all that poorly in Washington's 35-18 Wild Card round loss to the Green Bay Packers, throwing for 329 yards and one touchdown. But it wasn't enough to hold off Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who ripped through Washington's porous defense.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign for Cousins last season was how much he cut down on his turnovers. In his first three NFL seasons, he threw a staggering 19 interceptions in 14 games. But in 2015, Cousins only threw 11 picks.
With Washington likely moving on from RGIII, it's clear the team is handing the quarterback position to Cousins for the long term. The next step for the two sides is working out a contract extension, which would keep Cousins in DC throughout the prime of his career and spread out his hefty cap hit as well.