8:30pm: Cousins and Washington have not stopped discussing a contract, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Mike Florio of PFT. The source, Florio writes, was “adamant” that discussions are still active.
1:54pm: Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, who reported over the weekend that Washington and Cousins were nowhere close to an agreement, tweets that they still need to bridge that gap in negotiations. However, he hears that conversations between the two sides are ongoing.
1:15pm: Washington and quarterback Kirk Cousins have broken off negotiations on a new contract for the signal-caller, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, who tweets that no further discussions are currently scheduled. Schefter’s update comes on the heels of a weekend report which suggested the two sides were “nowhere near” reaching an agreement.
While it may be true that no further talks are presently on the docket for Cousins and Washington, that doesn’t mean that the two sides won’t talk again sometime before March 9th, when the new league year opens, or even March 1st, the franchise-tag deadline. It’s more likely that this is a negotiating tactic by one side or the other, rather than an insurmountable roadblock.
With the window for teams to use their franchise tag on players opening today, it’s possible Cousins’ camp has broken off talks in an effort to encourage the club to tag the quarterback. 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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