Kirk Cousins reportedly has ‘no problem’ playing under franchise tag

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Kirk Cousins has until Monday to work out a long-term extension with Washington, and there has been plenty of reason to believe he would be just as content playing out the 2017 season without one.

If Cousins plays under the franchise tag for a second straight year, he is guaranteed to make nearly $24 million. He made $19 million with it in 2016. In an appearance on SportsCenter Sunday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said NFL agents he has spoken to believe Cousins should be utilizing these one-year deals as leverage.

“I asked some prominent agents around the league what kind of money this guy should be looking for. They said what he should be doing is signing one-year deals, making $25 million or $30-plus million a year and holding the team at ransom,” Fowler said. “You could sort of create a trend like in the NBA with what LeBron James and Kevin Durant are doing.”

The problem with that is the risk of injury for football players is greater. NFL contracts are not fully guaranteed, so the goal is to get as much guaranteed money as possible with a long-term deal. But if he stayed healthy and continued signing one-year deals, every penny would be guaranteed for Cousins.

“He’s an enviable case study right now for those one-year deals. Last two franchise tags he will have made $44 million after 2017,” Fowler added. “Let’s say he plays really well — he’s looking at the franchise tag for $34 million. He’s probably not gonna want to take much less than that, at least on a one-year deal. … Really this is a guy who has no problem playing under the tag for that reason.”

One factor in Cousins not being desperate to sign a long-term deal with Washington could be that he wants to play elsewhere in 2018. Some NFL executives recently hinted that one team is planning to make the 28-year-old a massive offer next offseason, and Cousins has ties to said team. He may prefer to collect one more huge check from Washington before moving on.

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