ESPN’s Schefter: Washington considers tagging QB Kirk Cousins

Feb 4, 2018, 9:50 AM
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL foot...
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
(AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

When the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to trade Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins, teams like the Arizona Cardinals had to shift their plans for acquiring a starting quarterback.

Immediately, that move made it clear that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins became the main target, as Smith — now off the trading block — was acquired to replace him in Washington. And it seemed the only avenue toward that goal was signing the free agent Cousins to, likely, the most pricey NFL contract dolled out.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that acquiring Cousins’ services might be more complicated than that.

Schefter’s sources said Washington is considering franchise-tagging Cousins, thus attempting to receive compensation for losing a starting-caliber quarterback.

Franchise-tagging him would force Cousins away from picking his new team in unrestricted free agency.

Instead, it would make interested teams offer trades for Cousins that, Schefter imagines, involves draft picks.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden did not give Cousins a sense that the team would use its franchise tag on him when the two spoke last week, but others connected to the team insist that Washington is considering it. They believe it is nothing more than a business decision, a way for the team to try to get back at least the third-round pick it is trading to Kansas City for Smith.

Of course, Cousins will still have some degree of leverage if the team keeps him from becoming a free agent.

He could threaten teams interested in trading for him by saying he would not sign a long-term deal there. More importantly, Cousins could effectively hold out by not signing the franchise tag, which would keep $34.5 million of cap space occupied, harming the Redskins’ free agency flexibility.

Washington could pull the franchise tag to free that space, but it would lose a 2019 compensatory draft selection it gains should it allow Cousins to leave as a free agent.

Those concerns could scare Washington away from franchise-tagging Cousins.

From Arizona’s perspective, committing long-term money would be the No. 1 hindrance toward acquiring Cousins in either situation.

The Cardinals and first-year head coach Steve Wilks will be tasked with restocking their quarterback cupboard entirely this offseason after starter Carson Palmer retired. Backups Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert and Matt Barkley are all unrestricted free agents.

Arizona Cardinals

Nick Scott #33 of the Los Angeles Rams tackles Zach Ertz #86 of the Arizona Cardinals after a recep...
Sam Graveline

PFF: Tight end shaping up to be biggest position battle for Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals head into training camp expecting to have healthy competition at a handful of positions, including at tight end.
2 days ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates with fans after beating the Houston Texans 31-5...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals Corner: The timeframe of Kyler Murray’s contract extension

We haven't heard much lately when it comes down to Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and a contract extension. When will a new deal get done?
2 days ago
Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a defensive play during the first half against...
Nikash Nath

Cardinals LB Markus Golden among players with best team-friendly deals

Arizona Cardinals LB Markus Golden's contract cracked PFF analyst Brad Spielberger's top team-friendly deals ranking.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray (1) participates during the team's NFL football practice, Wednesday...
Nikash Nath

Cardinals’ Kyler Murray among top 5 QBs in multiple PFF passing metrics

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray's accuracy was on point in 2021, especially when looking at deep throws.
5 days ago
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons #9 during the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals an...
Nikash Nath

PFF’s Renner: Cardinals’ Isaiah Simmons a breakout candidate in Year 3

Cardinals' inside linebacker Isaiah Simmons was named a potential year three breakout candidate by PFF's Michael Renner.
4 days ago
Rodney Hudson #61 of the Arizona Cardinals in the huddle during the game against the Tennessee Tita...
Wills Rice

Former Cardinals C A.Q. Shipley thinks offense needs to find identity

"For (Kyler) the next step is just grabbing everyone around him, whether he just needs one play and everyone will look to him," Shipley said.
5 days ago
ESPN’s Schefter: Washington considers tagging QB Kirk Cousins