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- When the Washington Redskins traded for quarterback Alex Smith, most assumed Kirk Cousins would become the rare true free agent quarterback in his prime.
- But a new report says the Redskins are weighing the possibility of using the franchise tag on Cousins and then trading him.
- If the Redskins do franchise Cousins, the two sides could end up in a “game of chicken” as Cousins could make life difficult for the Redskins.
When the Washington Redskins traded for quarterback Alex Smith, most assumed Kirk Cousins would become the rarest of NFL commodities – a top quarterback who was a true free agent in his prime.
Not so fast.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Redskins are weighing the possibility of using their franchise tag on Cousins, a move that could lead to the two sides getting stuck in what Schefter described as “an offseason game of chicken.”
Why the Redskins would use the franchise tag on Cousins.
If the Redskins tag Cousins, they would be offering him a one-year, $34.5 million contract. They would then hope to trade him to a team where, presumably, Cousins would then negotiate a long-term contract.
Under this scenario, the Redskins could potentially get more for Cousins than just the 2019 compensation draft pick they would receive if he were to leave as a free agent.
“They believe it is nothing more than a business decision, a way for the team to try to get back at least the third-round pick it is trading to Kansas City for Smith,” Schefter wrote.
Kirk Cousins could make life difficult for the Redskins if they tagged him.
While Cousins would lose his true free agency, he would still have a couple of cards he could play. On the one hand, Cousins could have some say in where he would be traded as he could simply refuse to sign a long-term contract with a team he is not interested in playing for.
More importantly, Cousins could simply refuse to sign the franchise tag. The Redskins wouldn’t be able to trade Cousins until he signed the tag, but he would still take up $34.5 million in cap space, which would cripple the Redskins in free agency.
The downside for Cousins is that he could end up stuck in limbo. He wouldn’t be a free agent and the Redskins couldn’t trade him. If that went on for a while, teams that might have been interested in Cousins would most likely move on to other options, not wanting to wait for a player they aren’t sure will ever be available.
To make matters worse for the Redskins, if Cousins did refuse to sign the franchise tag and the team then pulled the tag to free up the cap space, they would lose the right to their 2019 compensation draft pick.
Of course, all of this would be moot if the Redskins don’t use the franchise tag and simply let Cousins walk. But if they do use the tag, things could get ugly.