It’s not really a surprise that Washington and Kirk Cousins failed to come to terms on a long-term extension before Monday’s deadline for franchise players.
What is a surprise, however, is what happened next. Team president Bruce Allen released a statement detailing the offer Washington made to keep Cousins in the organization while revealing that Cousins’ representation failed to ever respond to the proposal. While teams often leak information to try to negotiate through various media channels, this sort of public revelation is virtually unprecedented. It also says a lot about Cousins’ future in D.C.
First, let’s talk about the offer itself. Allen suggests Washington made a generous offer on May 2 that would have given Cousins a record $53 million in full guarantees at the time of signing and $72 million in guarantees for injury. The organization apparently did not make a further offer after Derek Carr signed his extension in mid-June.
While there’s little reason to doubt that the numbers Allen put out there are inaccurate, they’re nowhere near as impressive as he’s suggesting. For one, Cousins’ franchise tag for 2017 already guarantees him $23.9 million, meaning that Washington’s deal would only be worth $29.1 million in new money. Barring a career-threatening injury, Cousins unquestionably would get more than that in unrestricted free agency next year.
Former NFL agent Joel Corry suggested Cousins could get $100 million in guarantees on the free market. Cousins’ deal would likely top the $87 million Andrew Luck received in guarantees on his extension with the Indianapolis Colts, and $90 million seems like a reasonable baseline.
To keep Cousins in town for 2018, Washington will have two options. One is an unprecedented third franchise tag, which would guarantee Cousins a staggering $34.5 million on a one-year deal. Alternately, Washington could employ the transition tag, which would allow them to match any offer without compensation at the cost of…