When the Redskins made a deal for Alex Smith last week, that effectively put an end to the Kirk Cousins era in Washington. Cousins, the team's 2012 fourth-round pick who was franchised each of the last two offseasons, would hit free agency in a few weeks and finally be free to sell his wares to the highest bidder.
Except the Redskins, who clearly are ready to move on from Cousins as evidenced by a) their refusal to give him a long-term deal commensurate with his talents, and b) the decision to trade for Smith, may not be interested in a clean break.
The Kirk Cousins saga may not be over. I'm told that rival teams talking with Redskins brass believe Bruce Allen and Washington could make a concerted effort to trade the QB, preventing Cousins from hitting the open market.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) February 4, 2018
ESPN's Adam Schefter confirmed as much on Sunday morning, reporting that the Redskins will consider franchising Cousins for a third time in an effort to then trade him. The thinking: Instead of letting Cousins walk for nothing more than a compensatory pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Washington can get much more than that for what many team's consider a legit franchise quarterback.
Tagging Cousins also gives the Redskins some say on where he plays next season, particularly since there are several NFC teams -- with the Cardinals near the top of the list -- looking for stability at the quarterback position.
But that plan isn't without its problems, as Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith points out:
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reiterates Cousins' options and adds some context as to why the Redskins would even consider it:
Skins do some silly, petty things, but stooping to tag-and-trade Cousins wouldn't fly. They'd get grievance and Cousins could block trade...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) February 4, 2018
Cousins's camp could make it clear not doing a lot-term deal w/other teams, holds up $36M in cap space by not signing. It's a weak threat— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) February 4, 2018
Skins pres Bruce Allen has been speaking to rival execs about possibly tagging Cousins. They don't see the logic. Seems overly personal— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) February 4, 2018
Of course, team president Bruce Allen is also the same man that called Kirk Cousinswhile explaining the team's lowball contract offer.
"It was a surprise," he admitted. "I was actually working out at my hotel room here in Minneapolis and when I finished the workout went over to my phone and saw the news. Every player looks forward to free agency. It looks like I'm going to be a free agent on March 14. I guess there are still some dates to check off, but it should be an exciting process."
One of those dates is February 20, which is when teams can start using the franchise tag.