6:32pm: The likelihood of the two sides reaching a long-term pact is “not good,” per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. However, that could change after Washington applies the franchise tag to Cousins, Rapoport adds (Twitter link).
9:53am: There will be no long-term deal “now nor anytime soon” between Washington and quarterback Kirk Cousins, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). However, things are not contentious between the two sides, he says.
Earlier this week, there were some conflicting reports as to whether talks between the two sides were active. The discussions have “broken off,” yet the two sides are “still talking,” just without much to discuss at the moment, Schefter tweets. That report alone sounds pretty ambiguous, but the main point here seems to be that there probably won’t be a long-term pact hammered out in the coming weeks.
Reports late in the 2015 season suggested that Washington intended to retain Cousins by any means necessary, and the franchise tag wouldn’t be a bad outcome for the player. Based on a projected salary cap of $154MM for 2016, the non-exclusive franchise tag for quarterbacks this year would be worth nearly $20MM, and that salary becomes fully guaranteed if and when a player signs the franchise tender. Locking in a guarantee of nearly $20MM for one year and setting a baseline for a longer-term extension could help improve Cousins’ leverage in contract talks. And of course, if Washington doesn’t use its franchise tag to lock him up, he would potentially have the opportunity to reach the open market, where multiple lucrative offers would likely be waiting for him.
Perhaps no player in the league did more over the last four weeks of the regular season to help his stock than Cousins, who completed 74% of his passes for nearly 1,200 yards, while posting a 12:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio to go along with a 134.0 quarterback rating. For the season, Cousins thew 29 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, led the league in completion percentage (69.8%), and helped Washington win its first division title since 2012.
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