According to an ESPN report, the Redskins are considering using the franchise tag on Cousins - with the intention of trading him for compensation. The thinking: Instead of letting Cousins walk for nothing more than a compensatory pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Washington can get much more than that for what many team's consider a legit franchise quarterback.
Of course, if the Redskins do slap the tag on Cousins again and he obliges, the Smith trade could go up in smoke.
Yes, tagging Cousins would prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Cousins does have some control and he could force Washington into an uncomfortable situation if they place the franchise tag on him. 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. This means the Redskins are getting their quarterback of the future, as Smith has also signed an extension with the team. Cousins, the team's 2012 fourth-round pick who was franchised each of the last two offseasons, would hit free agency in a few weeks and finally be free to sell his wares to the highest bidder.
The team has been searching for a long-term solution at quarterback for years, and Cousins - in his prime - could solve that problem.
Teams can begin utilizing the franchise tag on February 20.
Cousins will be looking for a job and will receive offers from any combination of those teams, but let's look at the case for him to join the Cleveland Browns. For Kansas City, Andy Reid and the front office are ready to hand the keys of the offense over to Patrick Mahomes, a player who KC spent a first round pick on in last year's draft. Cousins would be allowed to seek offers from other teams.
The biggest assumption in all this is that the Browns would even be interested in signing Cousins in the first place, a scenario that seems less likely now that the club has brought former Washington general manager Scot McCloughan to town to work as a consultant.
A blockbuster trade occurred in the National Football League and it has major implications for many teams, whether they were directly involved or not. He has not missed a game in any of the past three seasons.
Sure, they could. They have two second-round picks this year (37th and 49th). But if Cousins is valuing the chance to win as much as money, we have some clarity on what teams he'd prefer to sign with this summer.