The drama surrounding quarterback Kirk Cousins is over – for now:
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) February 28, 2017
Washington placed the exclusive Franchise tag on Cousins, retaining his services for the 2017 season. By handing out the exclusive Franchise tag, no team can enter contract negotiations with Cousins, which gives the two sides exclusivity while opening a window that would end on July 15 in which to draw up a long-term extension that would cement Cousins’ place as the team’s quarterback.
This was a complicated process, filled with a tense build up because of how the front office had made a mess of the entire ordeal. Owner Daniel Snyder still has a world that is as unkempt as it gets as the team will have committed more than $43 million in guarantees to Cousins for only two years of service. As a comparison, the Ravens signed Joe Flacco to an extension with $44 million in practical guarantees in March 2016, but the deal locked him in place through the 2021 season.
Of course, Washington isn’t out of the woods because the team could extend a franchise tag for a third season in 2018, which would result in more than $78 million in guarantees over a three-year period. Andrew Luck of the Colts is the only quarterback with more guaranteed money, and his deal established him as Indianapolis’ starter for five years.
Cousins has thrown for 9,083 yards, 54 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions with a 99.3 passer rating over the last two years. He led Washington to the playoffs in 2015 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2016, a season in which Pro Football Focus ranked him as the eighth best quarterback in the league with an 85.9 grade.
If you had dreams of the Bears acquiring Cousins via free agency, those were abruptly ended on Tuesday afternoon. Washington and Cousins could still explore a trade, though his preferred destination is rumored to be San Francisco where he would be reunited with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.