Washington is expected to use the $23.9 million franchise tag on Cousins by the deadline of 1 p.m. Wednesday. The non-exclusive tag would have given him the right to negotiate a contract elsewhere, with Washington having the right to match the deal or receive draft-pick compensation in exchange.
If Washington thought it could trigger a trade with the 49ers, the team likely would allow Cousins to negotiate a long-term deal with San Francisco.
So is Cousins even worth the almost $24 million he'll make in 2017?
If everyone in the organization believed in Cousins as coach Jay Gruden does, this deal would be done. Cousins can not enter any negotiations with another team now but that the QB will play in Washington in 2016.
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In 2016, Cousins threw for a career-high 4,917 yards and 25 touchdowns against 12 interceptions, numbers on par or better than his breakout 2015 campaign. Cousins would have tens of millions in guaranteed money in his future, he'd be in place for five or six years, and the Redskins could focus on their more significant problems - pass rush, starting safeties and what do to at wide receiver.
The Redskins have enacted phase one of the Kirk Cousins conundrum. If no long-term deal is agreed to, the player will take part in the season on a one-year deal. Cousins record against.500 teams is 5-13 and that number drops to 2-11 when he is facing teams with nine or more wins. Kyle Shanahan was his offensive coordinator and now needs an upgrade under center, so it only makes sense for the 49ers to pursue Cousins, especially after the quarterback said there's no one else he's interested in signing with long-term.
Lynch and Shanahan could invest their resources in non-quarterback upgrades and wait for Cousins to hit free agency in 2018. Cousins may not be an elite passer, but because of the market value of quarterbacks he'll more than likely become the highest paid quarterback in the National Football League after 2017.