By: Dan Hanzus, Around the NFL Writer
Today is a very good day for Kirk Cousins.
The Washington Redskins used their non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, the team announcedTuesday. The designation acts as a one-year, $19.95 million contract for the quarterback, who picked a wonderful time to enjoy a breakout season in 2015.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported last week that the Redskins had considered using the transition tag on Cousins, which would have lowered his annual value by about $2 million while also leaving Washington open to another team making an aggressive play on the passer.
Instead, the Redskins take the safer, albeit much more expensive, route. Rapoport said on NFL Network on Tuesday that Cousins plans to sign the deal and take part in the team’s entire offseason program.
As for the non-exclusive franchise tag specifics: Cousins can still negotiate with other teams. The Redskins would have the right to match any offer, or receive two first-round picks as compensation. It leaves the door slightly ajar — something the Broncos weren’t willing to do with Von Miller — but it is very hard to imagine any team signing the still largely unproven Cousins to a long-term deal while also punting on the top of their next two draft classes.
Yes, $20 million is a lot of guaranteed money for Cousins, but this move makes sense for the Redskins. The price tag would seem to set an unrealistic floor in negotiations this spring, so don’t be surprised if Washington lets Cousins play on the tag and try to remove any doubt he is The Man.
In the end, both sides win: Cousins gets paid like a superstar for one year and the Redskins get a bigger sample size before making a franchise-shifting decision.