Sunday morning, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Washington Redskins are considering placing the franchise tag on QB Kirk Cousins, “so they can trade him and recoup some of the compensation they are sending to Kansas City for QB Alex Smith.”
My first thought upon seeing that headline was, “OK, what loophole am I missing that the Redskins can take advantage of?” After reading the article, Schefter correctly outlines everything that could go wrong for the Redskins in placing the tag on him.
First, Cousins is tired of being held hostage. If the Redskins want to trade Cousins to say...the Browns, but Cousins says, “I am not signing a long-term deal there,” then we’re in the same boat that GM John Dorsey was just in with the Alex Smith situation: not being on the same page as the player you want to acquire. Additionally, the Redskins wouldn’t be able to trade Cousins until he actually signed the franchise tender, which means he could stage a holdout if he wanted.
If Washington finds no suitors for Cousins and then has to rescind the franchise tag (so they could clear the cap space needed for the Smith trade), then Washington loses out on the opportunity to acquire a valuable compensatory pick in 2019, even if he signs a big deal elsewhere.
Since the franchise tag is already worth about $34.5 million, would Washington really find a team willing to pay something like a first- or second-round pick for him? (And Cousins would have to know that, in signing the franchise tender, he’d be costing his new team a valuable draft pick, something that could’ve been used on a hot new toy like a wide receiver).
Does anybody see any scenario in which it’d make sense for Cousins to sign a tender and accept a trade vs. holding the Redskins hostage (where they’d have to rescind the tender at some point) so he could fully explore free agency?