Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins walks back to the huddle as the Redskins play the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter on September 24, 2017 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
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.
Teams can begin designating franchise players on Feb. 20.
Placing the franchise tag for the third consecutive year on Cousins would prevent him from becoming a true unrestricted free agent.
Without a franchise tag, Cousins is expected to draw interest from a number of teams, including several that are selecting in the top 15 of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Cleveland Browns own the first and fourth picks in the draft, with the Denver Broncos (No. 5), New York Jets (No. 6), Miami Dolphins (No. 11) and Arizona Cardinals (No. 15) likely seeking help at quarterback as well.
Cousins, in turn, could delay signing the franchise tag, with the Redskins remaining on the hook for approximately $34.5 million against their salary cap.
If Washington elected to pull the franchise tag to get Cousins' contract off its salary cap, the team would forfeit the right to recoup a 2019 compensatory draft pick that it would receive if the quarterback were able to leave right away as a free agent.
Cousins, 29, threw for 4,093 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season for the Redskins.
Smith agreed to a four-year contract extension worth more than $71 million in the deal. The 33-year-old Smith set career highs in passing yards (4,042), touchdowns (26) and passer rating (104.7) this past season and posted a 50-26 record as a starter since arriving in Kansas City in 2013.
The Redskins parted ways with cornerback Kendall Fuller, who collected 55 tackles, four interceptions and one forced fumble in 16 games this past season. The 22-year-old was selected by Washington in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.