With contract deadline looming, Kirk Cousins appears set to play season on franchise tag again – Washington Post

 In Sports
The deadline nears, and Kirk Cousins looks likely to play under the franchise tag yet again. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

As they entered the final hours of their window to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal, the Washington Redskins’ chances of doing so remained bleak.

Barring some unforeseen development before the NFL-imposed 4 p.m. Monday deadline, Cousins will play a second straight season on the franchise player tag, people familiar with the negotiations said.

Such a development — or nondevelopment, actually — would surprise next to no one. For much of the offseason, people familiar with the quarterback’s thinking have called it a long shot that Washington’s efforts would prove fruitful. It has long been expected that Cousins would wind up playing out the franchise tag for a second straight year — something no quarterback has ever done.

Playing on the tag again means Cousins, a six-year veteran, will draw a one-year salary worth roughly $24 million, and that the Redskins will find themselves in familiar territory next offseason.

They will again have to decide how serious a push to make to sign the quarterback to a long-term deal. If unsuccessful, team officials will weigh their options, which would again be using the franchise tag, placing the transition tag on Cousins instead, or letting him walk altogether.

But for now, Cousins is set to play out the season on the franchise tag, and negotiations can’t resume until after the 2017-18 campaign.

Cousins is again coming off a career year, and that has both driven up his worth and complicated Washington’s efforts to sign him to a multiyear deal for a second straight offseason.

In 2015, Cousins threw for a then-franchise record 4,166 yards to go with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while leading Washington the NFC East title in his first full season as a starter. But Redskins decision-makers disagreed with Cousins’s value and ultimately failed to offer the quarterback a deal that proved satisfactory to Cousins and his agent, Mike McCartney.

Washington used the franchise tag to retain Cousins in the offseason of 2016. That meant paying him $19.95 million, which was fully guaranteed. Wanting to see the quarterback prove that his 2015 production wasn’t a fluke, the Redskins let the 2016 franchise tag deadline come and go without offering Cousins a better deal.

Cousins, meanwhile, threw for 4,917 yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while leading Washington to a second straight winning season — a first for the franchise in 20 years. But the offseason came, and the Redskins and the Cousins camp remained far apart in their desired figures for a new contract.

People familiar with the talks say that while McCartney believed the starting point for a new contract in 2017 should have been around $24 million per year, Washington initially offered around $20 million per year. A lack of progress in talks resulted in Washington again having to use the franchise tag (guaranteeing him $24 million for this year) to avoid losing Cousins in free agency.

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