For the second straight year, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins will play under the franchise tag after the two sides failed to agree on a deal by the July 17 deadline. Cousins may not truly want to be in Washington, but can you blame him?

Shortly after the deadline passed, Cousins revealed that he wants to further evaluate the state of the franchise. The Redskins are in disarray. General Manager Scot McCloughan was fired on March 9, during the draft process, and was replaced by Bruce Allen, the team president. Allen doesn’t even know Cousins’ first name.


But, of course, if a player is given an overwhelming offer, he may look past all of these front office issues in exchange for a bigger payday. Washington couldn’t even do that and instead of even giving him an offer that he would have received in the open market, they tried to lowball him. Their final offer was less than $110 million over five years on top of the $24 million he would play for in 2017, which would average out to $22 million per year, which is in line with other higher-tier starting quarterbacks. But, this is the NFL and the key to contracts are always the guaranteed money, which was just $53 million over the first two years, including his franchise tag year, which is already guaranteed. Basically, Washington wanted to give him a two-year deal with team options for the other three seasons, beginning in 2019.

The Redskins are now in full spin mode, releasing a statement after the deadline to make it seem that they offered Cousins everything he could possibly want, but this backfired as soon as reported picked apart the guaranteed money.

Basically, Washington has mishandled Cousins, a massive mistake to make given that he is a talented player at the league’s most important position. Cousins made the Pro Bowl last season and has started 41 games for Washington, including all 16 over the past two years, the most starts since Jason Campbell. There were already rumors of a separation when he was tagged for the second time, specifically to San Francisco. Now, the Redskins are stuck either biting the bullet and trading him or letting him play out the year and getting nothing in return.

If Cousins hits the open market in 2018, he’ll have a ton of suitors. Drew Brees, Matt Stafford and Sam Bradford will also be available, but Brees will be 39, the Lions are working to make Stafford the highest paid quarterback in the NFL and Bradford isn’t as talented as Cousins. The Jets, 49ers, Vikings (unless they re-sign Bradford), Cardinals, Saints and Jaguars could all be in the market for a signal caller next spring. Cousins had no need to accept a bad deal from Washington when he can make much more on the open market. Washington can’t get out of their own way, but luckily for Cousins, greener pastures are ahead.