We are officially four weeks away from the deadline for NFL teams to come to terms on contract extensions with players designated with the franchise tag. If a deal is not done by this afternoon, the two sides cannot negotiate a new contract until after the season ends. The deadline is normally July 15, but since that falls on a Saturday this year, they get until the following Monday.
There are some notable players that have been franchised, but for San Francisco 49ers fans, the most notable is Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins. This is the second straight season Cousins has been tagged. He signed the tender and has made it clear he is prepared to report on time and play out the season.
There was a report recently that things have grown a little more positive in the relationship Cousins has with the team. Of course, there are still no indications the two sides are any closer on numbers, and that’s really all that matters.
Pro Football Talk put together some thoughts on potential numbers, and it gets interesting. Cousins earned $19.95 million under the 2016 franchise tag, and will receive $23.94 million on this year’s franchise tag. If they tag him a third time next year, they will owe him $34.47 million. If they use the transition tag, it would cost them approximately $28.72 million.
Cousins’ eventual long-term contract will feature eye-popping per year numbers, but the only number that really matters is fully guaranteed money. PFT says the thinking has been that Cousins would want a long-term deal to include at least the $52.66 million that would cover this year’s franchise tag and next year’s transition tag.
Additionally, he might want guarantees in his third year, and possibly a percentage of the cap for future year base salaries. If Cousins signs a long term deal next offseason, it would likely be at least five years, which goes through the 2022 season. The current CBA concludes following the 2020, and there is a very real chance the television deals under a new CBA see significant increases in the cap. Players will benefit in terms of average salaries, but the percentage increase would make it more worthwhile for Cousins and other big name players to take a percentage of the cap, rather than limit themselves.
With Cousins looking at playing 2017 under his franchise tender, that means we’ll likely have to wait until next spring to see where this situation progresses. The 49ers and Washington square off in Week 6 this coming season, and it’s safe to say there will be at least a little bit of chatter that week concerning the status of Cousins. He and Kyle Shanahan go way back. The 49ers don’t have a long-term answer yet at quarterback. They could roll with Brian Hoyer the next two seasons, see how C.J. Beathard develops, and potentially draft a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. Or, they could make a run at Kirk Cousins if he comes available next March. 2018 is going to make for an intriguing offseason.