WASHINGTON (AP/KPIX 5) — In a move that seemed the most likely at this point in the odd dance between Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins, the team placed the exclusive franchise tag on the starting quarterback on Tuesday.
The Redskins announced the news one day before the deadline for assigning tags to players.
Nearly a half-hour before the club itself sent out a news release about the move, Cousins posted the news himself on Twitter.
Coming off a pair of statistically impressive seasons, and a nearly $20 million salary under the franchise tag last season, Cousins is now in line for a one-year salary of about $24 million.
By using the exclusive tag, the Redskins prevent Cousins from signing an offer sheet with another team. A year ago, they put a non-exclusive tag on him, and he immediately signed it.
Last season, Cousins broke his own franchise record for passing yards, nearly eclipsing 5,000, and set another team mark with more than 400 completions, throwing for 25 TDs and 12 interceptions with a completion percentage of 67. The Redskins lost four of their last six games — including 19-10 at home against the division rival New York Giants in the regular-season finale, a defeat sealed by his late interception — to end up 8-7-1 and miss the playoffs.
After that game, asked what he expected to happen in the offseason, Cousins shrugged his shoulders and answered: "It's really not my decision to make. The ball was in the court of the team last year and they chose to tag me. And the same is true this year."
In 46 regular-season NFL games, including 41 starts, Cousins has thrown for 12,113 yards, 72 touchdowns and 42 picks.
After the season-ending loss to the Giants, Gruden was asked about Cousins.
"I think he belongs in the NFL as a starting quarterback, that's for sure," Gruden said, "and hopefully it's here."
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