Redskins use non-exclusive franchise tag on Kirk Cousins

WASHINGTON — Kirk Cousins is getting a raise, and a pretty big one.

The Redskins have placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on their emerging quarterback, the team announced Tuesday. The tag means Cousins will make $19.953 million this year if he plays under the franchise tag. He made $660,000 last year and has made roughly $2.5 million in his first four years in the NFL.

Under the nonexclusive tag, Cousins is allowed to negotiate with other teams. If he were to sign a deal with another team, the Redskins will have the option to match the offer. If Washington chooses not to match, then the Redskins will receive two first round picks as compensation. Most opposing teams shy away from trying to sign franchise players because of the heavy price tag in both compensation and picks that comes with it.

Head Coach Jay Gruden has maintained that he wants Cousins as the quarterback in 2016. General Manager Scot McCloughan has also said he wants Cousins back next year. The two sides had hoped to get a long-term deal done, but according to multiple reports including ESPN and NFL Network, both sides are far apart right now in negotiations. That doesn’t mean a long-term contract could not still be worked out before next season, though.

The two sides have until July 15 to negotiate a multiyear deal. If they don’t, Cousins will play the year under the franchise tag for $19.53 million, the highest base salary for a quarterback in the league in 2016.

Cousins became the starter at the end of August after the team made the decision to move on from Robert Griffin III. Cousins was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft and was a backup his first three years. He finished 9-7 in the regular season as the Redskins won the NFC East title before losing to the Packers in the playoffs. His best stretch came in the final 10 games of the year, when he threw 23 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He finished with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for the season, his first as a starter.

Official paperwork must be filed with the league office by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

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