All eyes on Red­skins, Cousins at dead­line

To earn $24 mil­lion with fran­chise tag

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY NORA PRINCIOTTI

It’s time for Deal or No Deal, Kirk Cousins edi­tion.

Bar­ring some­thing un­fore­seen, it’s un­likely that the Red­skins and their quar­ter­back reach a long-term deal be­fore the 4 p.m. Mon­day dead­line. If they do not, Cousins will play on the fran­chise tag and earn a fully-guar­an­teed salary of $24 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, this may not spell the in­evitable end of Cousins’ time in Washington as Cousins is open to a long-term deal next year, but the un­cer­tainty is ex­pected to stay in place for at least one more year.

Un­til things are of­fi­cial, though, all eyes will re­main on Cousins, who has mer­ited an un­usual amount of in­ter­est for a for­mer fourth-round pick on a mid­dling team, be­cause of his po­ten­tial to up­end the mar­ket for quar­ter­backs this off­sea­son. It’s not just the Red­skins and Cousins who are hop­ing for dif­fer­ent out­comes.

So, who else has a root­ing in­ter­est? The San Fran­cisco 49ers, for one. They’re root­ing for no deal, and the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting Cousins next year or even for 2019. This would also ben­e­fit backup Colt McCoy, who could move into the start­ing job in Washington.

Li­ons quar­ter­back Matthew Stafford, is also watch­ing closely. Stafford would like to see Cousins do a deal and push the mar­ket ever-up­ward be­fore sign­ing

an ex­ten­sion him­self. The big­ger the bet­ter, as far as Stafford is con­cerned, but even a deal that nudges the mar­ket, rather than up­ends it, would be a plus. What would that look like?

One of the closer com­par­isons to Cousins’ sit­u­a­tion is Drew Brees’ con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tion with the New Or­leans Saints in 2012. The Saints used the fran­chise tag on Brees but even­tu­ally came to an agree­ment on a five-year, $100 mil­lion deal be­fore the dead­line.

The Charg­ers fran­chised Brees in 2005 af­ter his rookie deal ran out. The Saints were in a pickle be­cause an ar­bi­tra­tor had ruled that that tag counted against Brees’ ca­reer to­tal, mean­ing that the Saints were tag­ging him for the sec­ond time and, if they wanted to do so again in 2013 it would be the third and come at a 144 per­cent raise.

Brees was set to earn $16.37 mil­lion in 2012. An­other tag would have paid him $23.57 mil­lion in 2013 giv­ing Brees sim­i­lar lever­age to what Cousins has now, ad­just­ing for in­fla­tion and the ris­ing cap. Brees wound up get­ting $60 mil­lion guar­an­teed, a $37 mil­lion sign­ing bonus and $40 mil­lion guar­an­teed in the first year.

As CBS Sports’ Joel Corry, a for­mer agent him­self, as­tutely pointed out, Brees got a 4.17 per­cent raise over the nex­thigh­est paid quar­ter­back, Pey­ton Man­ning, that year.

Derek Carr’s re­cent deal set his an­nual value at $25 mil­lion. A 4.17 per­cent raise over that fig­ure is $26.0425 mil­lion. A deal where Cousins gets sim­i­lar per­cent­ages in guar­an­teed money would work out to a five-year, $130.2 mil­lion deal with $78 mil­lion fully guar­an­teed and $52 mil­lion guar­an­teed at sign­ing. That prob­a­bly wouldn’t get it done, as Cousins’ lever­age starts with the fact that he could get, at min­i­mum, $52 mil­lion guar­an­teed over the next two years on the fran­chise tag and the 2018 tran­si­tion tag.

To sweeten the deal, Cousins could set a new NFL high wa­ter­mark with $60 mil­lion guar­an­teed at sign­ing. The ad­di­tional $8 mil­lion upfront would work out to $86 mil­lion guar­an­teed over the life of the deal. Five years, $130.2 mil­lion, $86 mil­lion guar­an­teed, $60 mil­lion guar­an­teed at sign­ing.

A deal like this would re­flect the lever­age Cousins has from the tag in the early guar­an­tees, but it also would re­flect the fact that Cousins is not yet a true free agent, and is still un­der Red­skins con­trol be­cause it’s based on the cur­rent quar­ter­back mar­ket.

Any­thing un­der that would be cost­ef­fec­tive for the Red­skins, who would al­ready have got­ten a sig­nif­i­cant win by re­sign­ing Cousins at all.

Any­thing above would please the NFLPA, Stafford and other quar­ter­backs, as well as Cousins and agent Mike McCart­ney.

Again, all of this will prob­a­bly be ren­dered moot Mon­day af­ter­noon, but it’s of value to un­der­stand the mar­ket in gen­eral and the scope of the ne­go­ti­a­tions in par­tic­u­lar. It’s not just Cousins or the Red­skins that this mat­ters to.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Kirk Cousins will prob­a­bly gen­er­ate in­ter­est from other teams af­ter next sea­son if the Washington Red­skins do not reach a long-term deal with the quar­ter­back by Mon­day at 4 p.m.

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