The 49ers are set to hire Kyle Shanahan as their new head coach, so there’s an obvious connection to Cousins, as they worked together in Washington a few years ago.
The exclusive tag prevents other teams from negotiating with the tagged player. However, a non-exclusive tag opens the possibility that the player could sign an offer sheet with another team, but this would cost them two first-round picks to sign the player away from the other team.
Earlier in the week, Adam Schefter mentioned that the 49ers will pursue Cousins in free agency as hard as they did Shanahan if the Redskins don’t sign him to an extension or use their franchise tag on him.
According to Schefter, it’s possible that San Francisco could still target Cousins even if Washington franchises in him in the coming months and possibly include their No. 2 overall pick in a trade for the quarterback.
Schefter says that Cousins has more leverage and power in contract talks with the Redskins than any player in the NFL has with their respective team and using the franchise tag on Cousins again in 2017 would create an even tougher situation for Washington, as franchising him for a third time would run them $34.48 million.
Interestingly enough, Schefter wonders if the Rams could have some interest in Cousins now that they’ve hired former Redskins OC Sean McVay, who has worked directly with Cousins. Of course, the Rams would have to be out on No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, but Schefter says it’s not completely out of the question, depending on what happens in the coming months.
Cousins would make close to $24 million under the tag next year and should Washington franchise him for a third time, it would run them a staggering $34,478,784 in 2018. A third franchise tag would bring Cousins’ three-year compensation to $58,422,384 and prevent the Redskins from tagging him for a fourth tag that would give him unprecedented leverage.
The Redskins will likely need to offer Cousins ever more guaranteed money to persuade him to stay, which should end up being over $58.5 million in the end.
Cousins, 28, is a former fourth-round pick of the Redskins back in 2012. He played out the final year of his four-year, $2,572,688 rookie contract that included a $472,688 signing bonus when Washington elected to use the franchise tag on Cousins that will pay him $19.953 million fully guaranteed for the 2016 season.
In 2016, Cousins has appeared in all 16 games and thrown for 4,917 yards while completing 67 percent of his passes to go along with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 8 quarterback out of 36 qualifying players.
We have him featured in our Top 100 – 2017 Free Agents list.