Mak­ing his­tory

Red­skins QB Cousins to play an­other sea­son on fran­chise tag

The Western Star - - Sports - BY STEPHEN WHYNO

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.

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 In this Jan. 1 file photo, Wash­ing­ton Red­skins quar­ter­back Kirk Cousins passes dur­ing the first half of an NFL game against the New York Giants in Lan­dover, Md.

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 vi­cepres­i­dent 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.

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 co­or­di­na­tors 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.”

AP PHOTO

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