Redskins make right move franchising Cousins

WASHINGTON — Who would have thought after the 2012 NFL Draft that Tuesday’s transaction would have taken place?

The Redskins used the non-exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins, a tag that’s worth $19.953 million next season. The team also has until the start of the league year on March 9 to release quarterback Robert Griffin III or he will get the $16 million he’s owed.

This was a no-brainer for the Redskins and will be a no-brainer for Kirk Cousins to sign the offer.

The “non-exclusive” aspect of the designation means Cousins can still negotiate with other teams. If he did go on to sign a deal with another team, Washington can match the offer and keep him. If they let him go, the Redskins will be compensated with two first round picks. That provides a huge measure of insurance.

The other option for the Redskins would have been to use the transition tag on Cousins. The transition tag is basically the same thing as the franchise tag, except for the fact that if Cousins were to sign a contract that the Redskins did not want to match, there would be no compensation. The team would also save what amounts to about $2.25 million, based on the average salary of the top ten players at the quarterback position. So ask yourself: is it worth it to risk losing your quarterback over what might turn out to be $2.25 million?

As far as a long term deal, the Redskins would still like to get one done and they have until July 15 to do so. If they don’t and Cousins plays the year for $19.953 million, that’s only about $4 million more than they would have given to Griffin this year.

The team wants the long term deal, but also wants the deal on their terms. I can’t blame them for not wanting to give Cousins an astronomical number after one good season. I also can’t blame Cousins’ camp for asking for a high number. He could roll the dice and play out the tag and, if he plays well, be in line for a bigger payday next year. If he plays as well next year as he did in the final 10 games this season — when he threw 23 touchdowns and only three interceptions — he’ll be sitting pretty this time next year.

Is it conceivable that the Redskins lose Cousins? A team would have to match his asking price and part with two first-round picks. That’s not going to happen.

So Cousins will be the quarterback for 2016. The big question now is whether or not a long term deal will get done.

Either way, it’s evident that Scot McCloughan is putting his stamp on this organization more and more by the day Redskins fans should be happy he’s here.

George Wallace

George Wallace is the WTOP sports director. He began at WTOP on Christmas Day of 2000.

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