Get ready for another drawn out offseason before Kirk Cousins commits to any deal.
The Redskins and Cousins can negotiate a long-term contract at any time now that the regular season is over, but Cousins said Friday that he’s willing to wait and see if the franchise sticks him with a third consecutive franchise tag.
Speaking to 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, Cousins addressed his future in a two-hour interview, saying he would prefer security in his next contract rather than taking it year-to-year.
With that in mind, here are some key dates to watch moving forward.
This is the day that will be key going forward — the NFL mandates the Redskins must notify Cousins if he is being designated with either a franchise tag or a transition tag. Applying a franchise tag would give Cousins a one-year, $34.4 million contract, which Cousins said he would sign.
Cousins made it clear the franchise tag isn’t his preference, saying “there’s part of me that would like to get settled.” If Cousins is tagged, the Redskins would also have until July to negotiate a long-term deal.
The more interesting option is the transition tag — worth $28.8 million for one-year. Under this scenario, Cousins is allowed to talk to other teams and potentially bring another contract to the Redskins. Washington would have the option to match the deal or let Cousins walk.
If this happens, Cousins said he would fully explore the market and talk to other teams.
If the Redskins use the transition tag — or, less likely, if the team just lets Cousins fully explore free agency, these are the days when Cousins and his agent, Mike McCartney, are allowed to talk to other teams, starting at 4 p.m. March 12.
Opposing teams are allowed to start signing free agents March 14.
Cousins said he expects the market to be robust for his services, rejecting the notion that there won’t be as many suitors because the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers — two perceived front runners before the season — solved their quarterback situation.
“I don’t think it hindered the market,” Cousins said.
The following teams are expected to be in need of a new quarterback: the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Jets, the Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos, the Buffalo Bills and perhaps the Jacksonville Jaguars. Depending on how the Giants feel about Eli Manning, New York could be in the mix, as well.
“It comes back to winning,” Cousins said. “Wherever I go, I’m not going there to increase my portfolio. I’m going there to win.”
In this process, Cousins will heavily rely on McCartney. Cousins shared an anecdote about how the Redskins, under former general manager Scot McCloughan, offered him a long-term contract with four games to go in December 2015 and Cousins was willing to take it.
McCartney, Cousins said, told him to reject it.
“Mike’s message was, ‘Kirk, for them to see you in the light that I see you, you’re going to need to play four more games and then do more and even play better because they just aren’t viewing you in that light,’” Cousins said. “I didn’t like to hear that. They were ready to do a deal. Mike said, ‘No, you should finish out the season and put the risk on yourself.’”
McCartney’s advice paid off and Cousins netted nearly $44 million in the following two seasons.
If the Redskins give Cousins another franchise tag, July 16 will be the deadline for the two parties to negotiate a long-term extension.
Cousins and the Redskins have not met this deadline in each of the last two seasons for different reasons. The first year, Washington wanted Cousins to prove his 2015 campaign wasn’t a fluke, while last year, Cousins wanted to see which direction the Redskins were headed after this season.
Cousins complimented the Redskins in two ways Friday: saying he believed they are committed to him and praised the way the coaching staff handled injuries during the season.
This date, of course, won’t matter if Cousins leaves the Redskins in free agency. But in the meantime, Cousins said he will measure his options before signing a new deal.
“I see us taking our time,” Cousins said.