Washington QB Cousins turns down $53M guaranteed
Will be 1st QB in NFL history to play 2 seasons under 'franchise tag'
Kirk Cousins will be the first quarterback in NFL history to play consecutive seasons on the franchise tag.
Cousins and the Washington Redskins didn't sign a long-term deal by the deadline Monday. He will make $23.94 million on the franchise tag in 2017 after earning $19.95 million last year.
Team president Bruce Allen said in a prepared statement that the Redskins' goal was to sign Cousins to a long-term contract and offered him $53 million guaranteed or $72 million in the event of injury. That would have been the second-most fully guaranteed money given to a QB behind Aaron Rodgers' $54 million.
"Despite our repeated attempts, we have not received any offer from Kirk's agent this year," Allen said. "Kirk has made it clear that he prefers to play on a year-to-year basis. While we would have liked to work out a long-term contract before this season, we accept his decision."
Cousins' agent, Mike McCartney, declined an interview request made before Allen issued his statement. Allen said the team's offer was made May 2 and that he met with Cousins face to face over the weekend.
Set franchise records
The 28-year-old Michigan State product is going into his third full season as Washington's starter. Cousins set franchise records with 4,166 and 4,917 yards the past two seasons, but has yet to win a playoff game.
Oakland's Derek Carr signed a deal last month that guarantees him $40 million. Carr has also not won a playoff game, but has played only three pro seasons, Cousins will head into his sixth NFL campaign and was a backup to Robert Griffin III to start his career.
In 46 games, including 41 starts, Cousins has completed 65.6 per cent of his passes for 12,113 yards, 72 touchdowns and 42 interceptions.
"I think Kirk has proved that he's in the top 15 quarterbacks," recently promoted senior vice-president of player personnel Doug Williams said last month. "Wherever you want to put him it all depends on who's looking at him in this league for what he's done in this league. I know a lot of people say he's got to win this one, he's got to win that one, but I think Kirk has proved that he can play in this league."
Cousins and executives called negotiations positive, and they may go through this again next spring. If Washington uses the franchise tag again for 2018, Cousins would get a 44 per cent raise to $34.47 million, or they could use the transition tag on him at a cost of $28.78 million.
Could use 'transition tag'
The transition tag would allow the Redskins to match any offer but would not give them any compensation if he left. Cousins has no shortage of admirers around the league, most notably former Washington offensive co-ordinators Kyle Shanahan, now head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and Sean McVay, now coach of the Los Angeles Rams.
Chief negotiator Eric Schaffer said the Redskins weren't trying to "win a championship" with their contract and said there was a positive dialogue with Cousins' camp.
"Kirk is a really good player and he's a Redskin and we only want him to be here," Schaffer said. "I would express that."
Asked by former QB Joe Theismann if he wanted to be a member of the Redskins, Cousins said yes and called it "an easy answer."
"There's just so many positives to discuss — love my teammates, I love playing with these guys — so I don't need to look elsewhere," Cousins said in a video posted on the team's website.
For at least this season, Cousins remains with the Redskins. Allen said recently he believes Cousins has a lot of good football in front of him.
"We both share high hopes for this season," Allen said. "And we remain hopeful that a long-term contract will be signed in the future."