Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins has officially signed his free agent tender, according to his agent Mike McCartney (Twitter link). Cousins will earn $19.953MM in 2016 under the terms of the non-exclusive franchise tag.
That franchise tag figure, clearly, represents a massive raise for Cousins, who earned just $660K in base salary last season. Of course, Cousins will have the opportunity to earn even more money, as he and Washington can work towards a long-term extension until July 15. If the two sides can’t agree to a deal, Cousins will play under the one-year tender, and then reach free agency again in 2017 (at which point, it would cost Washington roughly $24MM to franchise him again).
Cousins, 27, became Washington’s full-time starting quarterback for the first time last season, earning 16 of his 25 career starts in 2015. The four-year veteran finished the regular season on a tear, completing 74% of his passes for nearly 1,200 yards, 12 touchdowns, and a 134.0 quarterback rating over the final four weeks of the year.
That end-of-season run helped Cousins cement his standing as a quarterback Washington couldn’t afford to lose, but his first 12 games weren’t too bad either. 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.
As Luke Adams observed last week in his preview of Washington’s offseason, Cousins’ breakout season put the franchise in a difficult spot. The signal-caller’s lack of a track record will likely make GM Scot McCloughan and the rest of the front office hesitant to offer a lucrative, multiyear deal this offseason. However, Washington couldn’t let Cousins reach the open market, where there may have been multiple QB-needy teams ready to make him that kind of long-term offer.
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