INDIANAPOLIS — The Washington Redskins don’t anticipate using the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Redskins senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams said Wednesday that he doesn’t think they would try to tag Cousins for a third straight season. The idea, if they did, would be to then trade Cousins, hoping to get more than just the possible compensatory pick they would receive in 2019 if Cousins signs with another team.
The Redskins moved on from Cousins on Jan. 30 when they traded for Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith, a move the team can’t discuss until it becomes official on March 14. Multiple reports after the deal stated the Redskins would consider tagging Cousins.
“I don’t think so,” Williams said of such a move. “But it’s not too late. But we haven’t really talked about that. 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.”
Tagging Cousins would have been a risky endeavor. If he did not sign the franchise tender, the Redskins would be unable to trade him — and he would cost $34.5 million on the cap when free agency began. If he did sign the tender, he would let teams interested in trading for him know that he would not sign a long-term deal. That could block a deal, leaving him on the Redskins roster.
Though Williams couldn’t discuss Smith, he did respond to why the team opted not to try negotiating one more offseason with Cousins. The sides had discussed long-term deals each of the past two offseasons, though there was never much traction as both sides rejected overtures by the other.
Cousins, a fourth-round pick in 2012, started the last three seasons, twice setting franchise records for passing yards.
“Kirk has been here for six years and I’m sure there have been opportunities that deals could have been worked out,” Williams said. “It hasn’t worked out. As a team you’ve got to always put yourself in position where in case what might not happen. We can’t afford to let it come to the 12th hour and Kirk decide not to come back and leave us with the bag. We got to make decisions that are best for the organization and whatever decision we make or made, that’s what we’ve got to live with.”
The Redskins also didn’t want to have too much money tied up in one player — unless it was for a quarterback at the level of an Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. Smith, once he joins the Redskins, will count $17 million against the cap this season.
Cousins could end up as the highest-paid player once he signs in free agency, with an annual salary that might hit $30 million.
“It’s about winning,” Williams said. “The guy that played the Super Bowl and was the runner-up [Brady] makes about $15 million dollars, which is a lot of money. But you get to the point, it’s about the team. … When you got a team around you, you have to look at the team as a whole and find out how much it’s gonna take and what this is about, is this a team sport? I’m not saying giving a hometown discount or anything like that, but you’ve got to be real about the team, too. If you get all the money and you got nobody to play with, what good is playing?”