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Kirk Cousins seems willing to play 2017 under franchise tag

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I think he remains in Washington, but there are plenty of variables that could shake this up.

The San Francisco 49ers could end up pursuing Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins in the coming months, but in the meantime, he does have other options. Cousins said on Thursday that he is prepared to play the season on the franchise tag if a long-term deal or other arrangement cannot be worked out.

"We will cross that bridge when we come to it, but I would probably do what I did last year," Cousins told ESPN after the NFC's practice. "I will sign it and play with it. I'm not afraid."

A second franchise tag would net Cousins a guaranteed one-year contract worth $23.94 million. It is a sizable chunk of change, but a long-term contract would likely result in sizable guaranteed money, and the potential for even more long-term security.

Cousins is confident in his abilities, and given how he performed this season with the franchise tag, that is not surprising. If he puts together a 2017 season similar to this year, he would be looking at a monster of a contract in 2018. Technically Washington could tag him a third and final time next year, but the salary would be 144 percent of his 2017 salary. I believe that would be a base salary of $34.47 million. That is likely unwieldy for a single player under the salary cap.

Kyle Shanahan has plenty of connections to Kirk Cousins, and of course we had the report yesterday about how they both could have ended up with the New York Jets. It could still happen, and the 49ers have picks to deal, but Cousins playing one more year on the franchise tag would not be a big surprise. My prediction is he ends up signing an extension with Washington, but there is a lot of time left for something crazy to happen.