Earlier this week, Washington placed the exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. It removes the chance for him to speak with any other team, and once he signs it, Cousins will be guaranteed approximately $24 million. It remains to be seen what an eventual long-term contract would look like with any team, but Cousins and his representation are looking at his franchise tender as a floor for negotiations.
ESPN reporter John Keim wrote on Thursday that Cousins’ agent met with Washington’s chief negotiator at the NFL Combine. By all accounts, the two sides are a ways apart on a potential contract.
One source said [Washington’s] latest offer, first reported by the Washington Post and made earlier this offseason, stands at $20 million per year over five years. However, the source said the guarantees "were low," and the desire remains for any new deal to start at the tag number of approximately $24 million.
[Washington’s] best offer last year was $16 million per season, with $24 million in guarantees. If Cousins plays under the tag this season, he will have made $43 million in guaranteed money.
If Cousins puts together a 2017 season anywhere close to 2016, he could be looking at the biggest contract in NFL history. He is not the best quarterback in the NFL, but it’s all about timing. It reminds me of Charles Barkley talking about how the new $100 million NBA players in the late 90s were not better than previous players, they were just born later.
Washington’s poor performance in handling Cousins’ contract is going to result in a huge pay day. Andrew Luck got $47 million fully guaranteed when he signed an extension with the Indianapolis Colts last summer. In 2015, Cam Newton signed an extension that netted him $31 million fully guaranteed. It seems likely that any Cousins deal will include at least $40 million fully guaranteed, and if it happens next offseason as an unrestricted free agent, his fully guaranteed money could end up exceeding $50 million.
If Cousins remains with Washington this year and hits free agency next year, it is going to cost anybody big money. If Kyle Shanahan is completely sold on Cousins and the 49ers make a push, these are the numbers we’re talking about. It’s not a matter of over-paying because the 49ers are bad. It’s about over-paying because Cousins has hit the market at the perfect time.