Kirk Cousins will remain in Washington in 2016, even if the team has to use the franchise tag on him, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Citing sources with knowledge of the situation, La Canfora says the team has already reached out to Cousins’ representatives to express its interest in a long-term deal.
Cousins, of course, has had an up-and-down tenure with Washington over his four years with the club. Often the subject of trade rumors, sometimes relegated to a backup role when it seemed apparent that he gave the team the best chance to win, he has finally had the opportunity to display his skills on a full-time basis this year. Although Washington has compiled a mediocre 6-7 record in 2015, it is currently in first place in the NFC East and in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth due to the weakness of its division. And although Cousins’ numbers do not jump off the page, they certainly support Washington’s belief that it has a quarterback on the rise. Cousins has completed over 69 percent of his passes while throwing 18 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, compiling a 93.2 quarterback rating in the process. The fact that he has put together such a season without the benefit of a strong running game makes his efforts even more impressive.
Although it does not make sense for Cousins’ representatives to engage in contract talks now, as he continues to build leverage with passing week, the team has made it known that it is ready to talk contract whenever he is. Washington certainly believes it will begin negotiations not longer after the season is over, and one high-ranking official of a quarterback-needy club has expressed his belief that GM Scot McCloughan will do everything in his power to keep Cousins in the nation’s capital, including putting the $19-20MM franchise tag on him.
The type of contract Cousins could land as the best quarterback on the free agent market has been a hot topic of conversation over the past week, with some pointing to Alex Smith‘s deal with Kansas City–which has an AAV of $15MM and includes $45MM fully-guaranteed–as a reasonable comparable. Even if Cousins does not quite reach that level of guaranteed money, he is about to be a very rich man. Washington–which has been just as impressed with the way Cousins has handled himself during his time with the team as it is with his ability–is ready to make sure he will earn that fortune while wearing burgundy and gold.