The reality of the impending free agency frenzy surrounding NFL veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins took another step forward Wednesday, when Cousins’ current team, the Washington Redskins, said it would not use the franchise tag on the signal-caller for a third straight season.
Washington General Manager Doug Williams told reporters at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis that Cousins was essentially a “free agent”, according to a report by CBS.
The news by Williams comes after weeks of speculation that the Redskins could still use the franchise tag on the former fourth-round draft pick Cousins and then trade him off to another team, in hopes of gaining some form of compensation for their three-year starter. ESPN, however, reported that Williams said that was never really in the minds of the Redskins’ personnel department.
“We haven’t really talked about that,” Williams said in the report. “The media had come up with those scenarios more than what we’ve talked about it because I can’t remember one meeting where we talked about the possibility of tagging him.”
Cousins’ time with the Redskins essentially ended the week of the Super Bowl when Washington agreed to a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, sending veteran quarterback Alex Smith to the top of the Redskins’ depth chart. That trade will become official on March 14.
The Redskins and Cousins have spent the past few offseasons attempting to work out a long-term deal, but have had no success. The result has been the Redskins placing the franchise tag on Cousins for each of the past two seasons. Cousins, 29, made a reported $23.9 million under the tag in 2017.
Now Cousins will hit the free agent market and could be looking at one of the richest contracts in NFL history. He will likely be heavily recruited by teams like the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, and Buffalo Bills, all of whom are reportedly in the market for a new quarterback in 2018.
In his six seasons with Washington, Cousins was the full-time starter for the last three. He threw for over 4,000 yards in each of those seasons with the Redskins, and has thrown for over 10,000 yards in his career. He has 99 career touchdown passes, but has never won a playoff game.