Last offseason, Kirk Cousins was seeking a long-term deal from the Washington Redskins after a record-breaking season. The two sides were unable to come to an agreement, so Washington used the franchise tag on Cousins, which paid him a base salary of $19.95 million for the 2016 season.
Cousins has not let that hinder his performance this year, as he is on pace to obliterate his own franchise records he set a season ago. However, regardless of how well he has played or what records he might break moving forward this season, there is a chance Washington places the franchise tag back on Cousins for the 2017 season, as first reported by CBS Sports.
If indeed the Redskins decide to place the franchise tag on Cousins, they will pay him a base salary of $23,943,600. If for whatever reason the two sides yet again cannot come up with a long-term deal, Washington could use the franchise tag for an unprecedented third time in 2018, which would pay Cousins a base salary of $34,478,784. So for two seasons, Cousins could earn $58,422,384 for two years if the franchise tag is used.
The kicker in the long-term deal will be the guaranteed money.
Cousins and his camp can use the base salaries of next year’s franchise tag as leverage. To put it in perspective, Brock Osweiler received a four-year, $72 million contract with $37 million in guaranteed money. Certainly Cousins has played far better than Osweiler in his first season in Houston.
Whether or not general manager Scot McCloughan decides to reward Cousins play the past season and the 11 games thus far this season remains to be seen, but regardless, Cousins will be a paid man. It would be hard to envision Washington letting Cousins test the free agent market and go elsewhere, due to what he has done over the past 27 games.
Through the first 11 games this season, Cousins has passed for 3,540 yards, 20 touchdowns, seven interceptions while completing 68.4% of his passes. He has the most passing yards through the first 11 games in Redskins franchise history. He is currently on pace for 5,149 yards, which would be the sixth-most passing yards in a single season. He has two 400+ passing games this season, the most in franchise history. Peyton Manning and Dan Marino both did it four times in a season (a single-season record) and Tony Romo, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers have all done it three times in a season.
In his last two games, both of which were marquee games (Sunday Night Football versus Green Bay and Thanksgiving Day against Dallas) Cousins has thrown for 824 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Washington is currently 6-4-1 on the year and are vying for a playoff berth. The postseason will be where Cousins really has to prove his worth to McCloughan and company. It’s one thing to have a great regular season, but the ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl. If Cousins can lead this team to a Super Bowl championship or at least a deep playoff run, that will only increase his chances of that coveted long-term deal.
Regardless if Cousins is playing under the franchise tag the next (potential) two seasons or he can get the deal he wants; it is a win-win for him as he will be getting paid.