NFL

A Game of Tag: Why the Redskins Won’t Transition Tag Kirk Cousins

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Kirk Cousins, the Washington Redskins star quarterback, has been lighting up the stat sheet again this year, putting the Redskins front office in a very difficult situation. Kirk once again bet on himself in the off-season, and won in more ways than one.

The Redskins front office simply does not have the cap space to get into a transition tag “battle,” allowing other teams to negotiate with their franchise quarterback.  Think of it this way, if the Skins use the transition tag at $28 million, this allows any quarterback-needy team to begin the process of drawing up a front-loaded contract where the Redskins would not have the cap space necessary to match that offer.

Let’s say a team with a ton of cap space, such as the Cleveland Browns, goes all in on Cousins and offers a front-loaded contract of $45 million the first year and a more reasonable $35 million the second year. If Cousins is concerned about money, he’ll leave for this ludicrous contract because it is more favorable than anything the Redskins could ever dream of offering. In other words, there is no such thing as a “home town discount” for a team that has consistently low-balled him in negotiations.

Another factor for not transitioning Cousins is that, apparently, the Redskins front office is still not sold on Cousins at this point in the season. If they really need to see his performance in the final five games of the season to make a decision, they clearly haven’t been paying attention. Cousins is a top-10 quarterback in the league in not only many stat categories, but by common sense standards as well. Kirk has lost almost all of his main wide receiver targets this season to injuries, yet his completion percentage hasn’t dipped much at all. The Redskins are really going to gamble on Kirk putting up five straight sub-par performances in a row to make their decision? C’mon man.

So where does that leave Kirk and Redskins? For starters, the Redskins need to start preparing now for a huge difference in contract negotiation strategies, as what they tried the past two off-seasons clearly didn’t click. Sure, they can franchise tag Cousins for a third straight year at a staggering $35 million price tag, but with so many other needs on the defensive side of the ball, what’s the point? The only solution is to offer Cousins a contract in the ballpark of what Derek Carr and Matthew Stafford received as the baseline for the new set of negotiations.  This is the best way that the Redskins and Kirk can repair an already shaky relationship, and make Cousins the highest paid quarterback in NFL history. Not all fans will “like” that, but it’s the only option the Redskins have left.

Photo Credit: CNBC.com

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