Redskins: Tagging Kirk Cousins to trade him would carry far too much risk
There has been some talk that the Washington Redskins may try to tag and trade Kirk Cousins. That would be a massive mistake.
When the Washington Redskins traded for Alex Smith just a few days ago, it seemed that they had answered their quarterback question. They decided to let Kirk Cousins leave the team instead of tagging him for a third time, and Smith would be their franchise quarterback. However, it’s looking like there are still some questions about the status of Cousins.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Redskins are considering tagging Cousins and attempting to trade him. While that may seem like a great idea on paper, in practice, it would be borderline impossible.
There are a multitude of factors that would make this trade difficult for all involved. The first is that in tagging Cousins, the Redskins would be giving him a one-year, $34.5 million deal that would likely be more than what he would get, in average annual value, on the open market. Any team that wants to make a deal for him would have to clear that much cap space while consequently ensuring that they can keep enough talent on their roster. For that reason, a trade might be limited to a couple of possible partners who have ample cap space.
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Also, the biggest obstacle is the fact that Cousins could easily dictate where he is traded to. A team cannot trade a player until they sign a franchise tender. Given the way Cousins has been treated by the organization, he likely won’t want to bail the team out to allow them extra compensation via his departure. Plus, Cousins won’t want to take away assets from the team he is going to, as that would weaken their chances of building a quality roster.
In all likelihood, if tagged, Cousins would play a waiting game and wouldn’t sign the tender unless he absolutely had to. This would do a couple of things. First, it would take away virtually all of the Redskins available cap space which would render them completely inactive in free agency. That would be bad news for the team, as they could use some veterans to improve their stop unit.
Additionally, there’s a chance that the team could end up having to rescind the franchise tag from Cousins if they feel that they won’t be able to get him to sign it. This happened with Josh Norman in Carolina, and if Cousins holds out long enough, they may be forced to let him go by rescinding the tag. Should this happen, the team would still get a compensatory pick, but they likely would have missed out on signing any key players on the free agent market. And that should be a non-starter for the team.
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Simply put, there’s too much risk for the Redskins to consider tagging Cousins. They need to move on past this saga and usher in the Alex Smith era with zero distractions. Let Cousins walk, collect a third round compensatory pick in 2019, and see what you can get with the extra cap space on the free agent market. The team has a chance to be a very solid one in 2018, so focusing on trading Cousins seems to make very little sense, as more bad than good can come from any potential deal.