Washington and quarterback Kirk Cousins did not come to terms on a contract by the franchise tag deadline, and the situation is only getting messier. ESPN has been reporting there was a positive tone to talks between the two sides, but Washington team president Bruce Allen seemed to blow that out of the water.
On Monday, following the expiration of the 1 p.m. PT deadline, Allen released a statement regarding contract negotiations with Cousins. In it, Allen says that on May 2, the team offered Cousins a deal, “that included the highest fully guaranteed amount upon signing for a quarterback in NFL history ($53 million) and guaranteed a total of $72 million for injury.”
That sounds good on the surface, but it’s not quite that simple. The team wanted to lock up Cousins for five more years, but in effect, only pay one more year’s worth of guaranteed money. He is due a fully guaranteed $24 million this year under the franchise tag. That means they were offering $29 million more in fully guaranteed money. If he is given the transition tag next year, he’d be guaranteed $28 million, and if given the franchise tag a third time, he’d be guaranteed $34 million. Why agree to a deal like that when there is leverage to get the $24 million guaranteed this year, plus another $50 million or $60 million in fully guaranteed money?
I realize it’s all ridiculous money, but as always, we have to think about this in the NFL financial reality. And in that world, Cousins can easily surpass that $53 million thanks to the bungling of this situation by Washington. If he was not due $24 million fully guaranteed this year, then sure, maybe it makes sense to agree to Washington’s offer. But when you’ve got $24 million already locked up regardless of what happens and you’ve been patient and willing to prove yourself thus far, why change?
It is hard to say something will most definitely not happen at this point, but I just can’t see Cousins re-signing in Washington. I don’t think he is one to take a negotiating stance based on emotion, but Allen’s release is not the best way to go about maintaining some kind of positive relationship. It reads like somebody who realizes Cousins is out the door at the first significant opportunity. Maybe something changes, but that
At this point, the only real negative for Cousins is if he gets hurt. A major injury could cost him a sizable pay-day, but barring a career-ending injury, he likely could still secure a significant deal on the open market. And if he struggles this season, I think he still lands a good-sized deal. He can point to the loss of numerous playmakers, such as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. And of course, Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers are there ready to swoop in with a whole lot of cap space if the situation presents itself.