The Washington Redskins could make things awkward this offseason, if they decide to play a petty game of franchise tag and use a third tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. And if they do, fully expect the likely free-agent-to-be quarterback to fight back in the form of a grievance. 

Cousins is supposed to be the crown jewel of this quarterback free-agent class and he is an NFL unicorn: a healthy franchise-caliber quarterback hitting the open market before he turns 30 years old. This never happens. And it still might not, with the Redskins reportedly willing to use either the franchise or transition tag to keep him on their roster even though they have no intention of him becoming their quarterback for the long haul.

Washington signaled as much when it decided to trade the Chiefs for Alex Smith and hand Smith a huge new contract. Neither of those things are official -- and can't be until the new league year begins -- but it's essentially a done deal and it should, in theory, have the domino effect of sending Cousins into the open market.

And Cousins intends to try and get there even if the Redskins tag him. According to Albert Breer of, Cousins and "his camp will quickly file a grievance to block tag."

The idea here is pretty simple: Cousins would argue the Redskins violated the spirit of the rule by franchising a player they have no interest in keeping. 

In theory, the franchise tag is supposed to be used only on, you know, franchise players. NFL clubs are given the option of utilizing the franchise tag with the idea they will try in earnest to work out a long-term deal with the player, because that player is critical to the franchise.

We've seen plenty of examples (notably when kickers are given the franchise tag) where you could say it's auspicious at best that the tag was being used on a "franchise player" but the Redskins tagging Cousins after agreeing to trade for Smith would be a flagrant flouting of the rule. 

Washington has zero intention of keeping Cousins and has never really attempted to hammer out a deal that would secure the quarterback's long-term future with the club. Bruce Allen can talk about the offers on the table in the past all he wants, but the reality is the two sides have never been close

The Redskins blew this from the get go when they didn't offer Cousins a deal following his first good year. Now he has all the leverage, and he has had it for a while. 

If Washington wants to be vindictive and tag Cousins a third time, it can, but ultimately there is a very good chance Cousins would win his grievance. And it's probably for the best for the Redskins, who could see the Smith trade evaporate and/or take a huge L when it comes to cap space and roster freedom if they chase this game of chicken.