The Washington Redskins announced on Tuesday that they have placed quarterback Kirk Cousins on the exclusive franchise tag, keeping him for now for the 2017 season.
After weeks of speculation and buildup, the Redskins and Kirk Cousins have finally agreed to a deal that will keep the quarterback in Washington, at least for the time being.
The Redskins on Tuesday announced that they have placed the exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, which is essentially a one-year, fully-guaranteed deal.
This is the second straight season that Cousins has been tagged, and the first time in NFL history that a quarterback has been given the franchise tag in consecutive years.
Applying the franchise tag on Cousins also allows the Redskins to continue to work on a long-term deal with the quarterback until a July 15 deadline. Last year, the two parties were unable to negotiate a deal, but there may be more incentive this year considering next year's franchise tag will be extremely pricy.
For now, the decision ends the discussion of whether or not the Redskins would be able to hash out a long-term agreement prior to the March 1 tag deadline.
Another lucrative one-year deal for the Redskins starting quarterback does not make Cousins feel unwanted, however. As he explained throughout his press tour during Super Bowl week, receiving the franchise tag means the team wants to keep him, regardless of how long.
"I want to be where I'm wanted and if they tag mean that tells you that you're wanted," Cousins told ESPN 980. "They are not going to tag you or commit to you if they don't want you. So if they tag me then that's great and it means they want me back. Whether I sign a five year deal or a one year franchise tag, I'm going to feel like I'm on a one year deal every year and have to prove myself week in and week out. If they tag me great it looks like I'm wanted. If they don't then that sends a strong message too and lets go look at our options."
The merits for earning the tag are apparent. Cousins once again set records for the Redskins in his second season as the team's full-time starting quarterback. The Michigan State product finished the year with 4,917 yards – 15th most in NFL history -- and 25 touchdowns along with 12 interceptions. He also compiled a season passer rating of 97.2.
He finished the season with team single-season records in attempts (606), completions (404) and passing yards along with matching his own team record for 300-yard passing games with seven.
Cousins also became the first Redskins quarterback to rank in the top three in the NFL in passing yardage in a season since Jay Schroeder in 1986 (second).
In two different games this season, Cousins also threw for more than 400 yards, eclipsing the mark against the Cincinnati Bengals (458) in a Week 8 and then again against the Dallas Cowboys (449) in Week 12.
Cousins was also named NFC Offensive Player of the Month in November following his performances against the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and Cowboys, as he combined to throw for 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
It was the second time in his career that he earned NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors. He joined linebacker Wilber Marshall – who earned NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors in October 1991 and October 1992 – as the only players in team history to win multiple Player of the Month awards.
"He's done a lot of great things, there's no question about it," head coach Jay Gruden said at the end of the season. "Any time that you throw for almost 5,000 yards in an NFL season, there's a lot of positives there… This is his second full year playing and he's learned a lot, but he's got a lot more to learn, both from a mental side and then from a physical side, maybe the ability to create some plays once in a while would be good – like he did against Chicago. A couple scramble first downs, some off-schedule plays that you see some of these guys make. Athletically, he's not like Russell Wilson, or some of those guys, but still, maybe if he can buy time in the pocket a little bit, something he can continue to work on, get a feel for [and] take his game to the next level. He's already at a very high level."
Now, the Redskins and Cousins must determine how much more they want to invest in each other.