Redskins franchise tagging Cousins would be the pinnacle of idiocy
By Ian Cummings
There have been whispers that a third franchise tag may be in the works for Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins.
If Washington Redskins team president Bruce Allen manages to settle on a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, then he would set a new standard for idiocy in the team management business.
In a way, that would be impressive, because he set the current standard as well. But I digress.
For too long, the Washington Redskins’ inept front man has been short-sighted in his dealings with the future of an NFL franchise. The latest chronicle of those misadventures brings us to the Cousins negotiations, or lack thereof.
Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, there is a growing belief throughout the league that the Washington Redskins will prolong the inevitable by signing Kirk Cousins to a third straight franchise tag.
"With the salary cap expected to shoot from $167 million to $180 million or more and with plenty of teams flush with cap space and cash, the looming free-agency period could be more active than ever.Which is very good news for Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins. If, of course, he actually makes it to the open market.There’s still a chance he won’t. Some in league circles think Washington will use the franchise tag for a third straight year, pushing his one-year salary up by 44 percent, from $23.94 million in 2017 to $34.47 million in 2018. That would amount to more than 19 percent of the total available cap dollars for the full roster in 2018."
If the Washington Redskins decide to franchise tag Cousins, it would be undoubtedly the pinnacle of idiocy. There is no other way to describe such a move. It not only hamstrings the team’s financial flexibility in 2018, but it also omits the possibility of building a future with Cousins beyond 2018. A franchise tag would serve no purpose other than prolonging the inevitable.
It’s as simple as thinking to the future, instead of seeing only what’s in front of the eyes. This is something Bruce Allen has trouble with. If you’re going to move on, then move on. By tagging Cousins, Allen would set back the Washington Redskins another number of years. High-profile free agents would be out of the equation, and Cousins would be gone in 2019, leaving the team to face their pending void at the quarterback position.
The thing about inevitability is this. Whatever is inevitable will happen. And if the Washington Redskins and Mike McCartney are unwilling to even negotiate a long-term deal, then there’s no use holding Kirk Cousins and the franchise hostage for another year.
But at the same time, if the uptick in cap room would make Washington more willing to use the franchise tag, then why not instead use that money to try and lock down Cousins long-term? The annual value would be less than the franchise tag value, and that annual value would decrease over time, relative to the allotted cap space.
The stubbornness of both sides in these negotiations suggests that there is more than money on the mind. Cousins might feel slighted. The Redskins might feel at a loss no matter what. As I wrote in a previous article, the Washington Redskins can’t think on a year-to-year basis anymore. The implications are too dangerous.
There is another option that could lead to several different conclusions. The Redskins could use the transition tag at $28.72, effectively saving $6 million that they would spend on the franchise tag.
However, with those savings, they would face a tradeoff. Other teams can negotiate with Cousins, and if they make a higher offer, which is a possibility, the Washington Redskins, based on their recent history of frugality at the quarterback position, would likely concede, or trade the quarterback. In a trade, the Washington Redskins would at least get something back. But they’d lose their best chance at a franchise quarterback.
The use of any tag already shows that the Redskins have reservations about paying Cousins. A long-term deal means union. Anything else means good-bye, either in this year, or in 2019. And if you’re going to say good-bye in 2019, why prolong the inevitable? It’s harmful to the franchise in the short-term, and it could hurt the team in the future.
Next: Three free agent RBs for the Redskins to target in 2018
Ultimately, the decision is up to Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder. If they give a reasonable long-term offer with enough guarantees, then there’s no reason to assume that McCartney and Cousins won’t accept. Cousins wants stability, and in a vacuum, he wants to stay in Washington. For now, there is time to decide. But that time is growing slim. And patience with it.