Redskins could franchise tag Kirk Cousins to trade him

The Washington Redskins are considering placing their franchise tag on Kirk Cousins in a bid to trade him and recoup some of the money they are sending to the Kansas City Chiefs for fellow quarterback Alex Smith, ESPN reported Sunday.

Cousins won't become a free agent officially until March 14 and until then, Washington has some wiggle room to try and hold leverage over Cousins' situation. The 33-year-old former No. 1 draft pick is viewed as a cheaper, but older, version of Cousins, who was drafted by the Redskins in 2012, named the starter in 2015 and played the last two seasons on the one-year franchise tag.

But if things got hard with Cousins, could Washington rescind the franchise tag and just let him hit free agency?

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

Cousins, however, could delay signing the tag - meaning the Redskins would have to keep his $34.5 million salary on its salary cap - or he could tell potential suitors that he would not sign a long-term deal with an interested team. Everyone essentially received their answer when the Redskins made the move to acquire Smith, but Washington could still get something for Cousins while also regaining some of the compensation it sent to the Chiefs for Smith. As someone who hasn't been an ardent Cousins supporter, I would never trade away any draft capital for his rights, knowing he might not even want to sign a long-term deal with the team.

During a subsequent interview on NFL Network's "Super Bowl Live" program, Cousins said the Redskins reached out and "just kind of explained what had happened" on Wednesday. The Redskins, with Robert Griffin III on the roster and with uncertainty over Cousins' future, wanted to wait. The Redskins retained Cousins with the franchise tag the past two offseasons. The Bills, Browns, and Cardinals are also considered teams that will likely have interest in him. Teams can start handing out franchise tags on February 20. But in order for Washington to trade Cousins, he would first have to sign the franchise tag tender.

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Ultimately, it seems unlikely a tag-and-trade scenario will actually take place, but it is at least something Washington is considering, for what that is worth. He has not missed a game in any of the past three seasons. There's a chance that Cousins could be the quarterback that's missing for each of those teams, putting them all on level footing.

There are other factors at play in the Cousins sweepstakes.

Cousins will likely reset the market at the position whenever he finally gets the deal he's been yearning for.

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