The Bankrupt Value Of A Second Franchise Tag
While the team and player have time to agree to a long-term deal, the deadline for tagging him is quickly approaching. Franchise tags don’t usually portend finality for a player’s prospects with a team. Indeed, they frequently force both a team and player to a deal providing each a modicum of security for the foreseeable future. But a franchise tag in 2017 would be Cousins second in as many years, something unprecedented for a quarterback. And a tag this year may mark the beginning of a long goodbye for the former Michigan State product.
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If the team tags Cousins, he will, as he did last year, sign it and potentially ride it through the season. No stranger to betting on himself, Cousins would be more than content on playing on a $24 million guaranteed salary this year. If so, this would worsen the team’s already dire bargaining position as the price of the tag would now represent the floor for a new contract’s AAV.
Although both have up to July 15 to continue negotiations, Cousins only stands to benefit if he decides to protract contract talks. The longer he waits, the better the chances are that other quarterbacks such as Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr will set the market by hammering out their extensions this year. This, however, assumes that Cousins would still be interested in sticking around. Cousins may have, by then, tuned the Redskins out for good – that is, if he hasn’t done so by now. Indeed, he may have already settled on biding his time this year for a better, more respectful front office elsewhere.
The team, of course, could tag Cousins again next year. But its prohibitive $34 million cost would almost certainly disqualify that as a realistic option in 2018. A multi-year contract may also theoretically be possible next year. However, if Cousins continues to produce, his contract demands would exponentially increase.
Under this scenario, Cousins could simply refuse to bargain with the team prior to the new League year and he’d then hit the open market after the team couldn’t afford to tag him for a third consecutive season. Yes, the team still could re-sign him after he fields blockbuster deals on the open market. But the likelihood that he would return given all the water that’s passed under his bridge would be, at best, uncertain.