Now that the Washington Redskins have their starting quarterback for the next few years, could they make a move with their previous one? I've been asked that more than a dozen times since the Redskins traded for Alex Smith. So here's a special edition of the mailbag.
@john_keim if I was skins I would be shopping cousins sign & trade all over the league. Maybe get a bidding war and recieve a little something. What u think?
— Kevin A. King (@ka_king) February 1, 2018
John Keim: It's not going to happen -- or is a big long shot -- for a variety of reasons, as others have also pointed out. I'll get to the tag situations in a minute, but the one thing I was told is that Kirk Cousins won't be doing any favors for the Redskins. That doesn't mean there's bitterness over the situation -- he wasn't going to sign here long term regardless, so it's not as if he somehow now feels scorned. He wanted unrestricted free agency, and he's about to get it. But he has no reason to help them out; in doing so he'd actually hurt his new team.
So for those wondering if they would work out a long-term deal and then trade him, you can forget it. In that scenario, his new team would have to surrender draft picks -- and that means the team Cousins would be joining would have less ability to add talent. Makes no sense. I've heard all along that he doesn't want to cripple whatever team he joins in terms of cap flexibility or the ability to build around him. Yes, he'll still get a lot of money and he's not going to take a ton less.
Now, for the tag portion. If the Redskins used the franchise tag -- and because it's a third tag it must be exclusive, meaning other teams can't talk to him -- it would cost them $34.5 million the minute he signs the contract. That means once the new league year begins, he'd be on their salary cap. And that means they'd be unable to make certain moves until moving him. What happens if they can't trade him? He's on their cap. Obviously, the same is true if there's a transition tag at $28 million.
Sure, in theory a team wanting Cousins could trade for him immediately and then work out a deal. But who is going to trade for him without seeing about a long-term deal? There are wink-wink deals and there's a legal tampering period. That's for unrestricted free agents, which he would not be if he's on the tag. So no deal can be reached until after free agency begins. And until a trade is made, he'd count against their cap. Massive risk. All it would do is hurt the Redskins. They'll have to be content with a third-round compensatory pick for Cousins in 2019. The time to pursue a trade was last offseason, as some in the organization know.