Redskins use non-exclusive franchise tag on Kirk Cousins: 5 things to know

The Redskins weren't going to let Kirk Cousins -- potential franchise quarterback! -- slip into free agency. Not with the cap at $155 million in a quarterback-starved league.

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora confirmed Tuesday the Redskins' plans to tag Cousins. Grant Paulsen of CBS Sports Radio affiliate 106.7 The Fan in D.C. first reported Tuesday afternoon the Redskins will be using the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins to retain him for 2016.

Here's five things to know about Cousins' tag.

1. Non-exclusive is a big piece of bait: This is so spicy from the Redskins and a smart move by GM Scot McCloughan. The non-exclusive tag means other teams can negotiate with Cousins and sign him to an offer sheet.

The Redskins get the opportunity to match any offer sheet Cousins signs from a team in the market. But if they decline to match the offer sheet and Cousins signs with a new team, Washington would get two first-round picks in return.

Cousins is a quarterback, and quarterbacks are the NFL's most valuable commodity, but it would be a major surprise for someone to give up a pair of first-round picks in order to sign an average quarterback to an onerous contract.

This is precisely why the transition tag was never a serious option -- same deal as the non-exclusive tag except the Redskins wouldn't get any picks back if he signed elsewhere. McCloughan is too smart to let someone else negotiate for him without getting anything in return.

2. The money: Cousins will get a one-year deal from the Redskins worth $19.95 million. If he signs the tender it will be a fully guaranteed deal.

3. Where the money comes from: If you think Washington is sweating a one-year contract worth $20 million, well, you shouldn't. They are about to free up a nearly equal amount when they release Robert Griffin III shortly. The former face of the franchise was due to make more than $16 million in guaranteed money because of the Redskins fifth-year option, but if (when) they cut him, they'll free up that cash to pay the future face of the franchise.

4. Do you trust him? This is easily the most fascinating quarterback subplot of the offseason (non-Peyton Manning category). Cousins led the league in completion percentage (69.8), threw for more than 4,000 yards (4,166), threw 29 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions, won a divisional title, took the Redskins to the playoffs and ... didn't beat a team with a winning record.

Guaranteeing him life-changing, franchise-quarterback money is a risky proposition. Not paying him now, seeing him blossom further under the tag in 2016 and then facing the prospect of paying him real franchise-quarterback money might be even riskier.

You can't let him go and you might be too scared to sign him to a massive deal. Cousins' camp has lots of leverage because of the market, because of the $20 million guaranteed already on the table and because of his production.

Watching a game of chicken play out in real time is fun.

5. Deadline for a new deal: The Redskins and Cousins have until July 15 at 4 p.m. ET to work out a new contract. If they don't do a deal before then they would be unable to negotiate until after the 2016 season.

Cousins got tagged. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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