Even if Redskins' Kirk Cousins is unhappy, don't expect a holdout

Tom Pelissero
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QB Kirk Cousins is currently due $24 million from the Redskins in 2017.

Don't interpret the news that Kirk Cousins asking Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for a trade as a sign their standoff is headed for a holdout.

Cousins is getting paid even if the Redskins refuse to deal him — close to $24 million on his franchise tender this season, and a lot more than that from the San Francisco 49ers (or somebody else) a year from now if he plays well, unless Washington keeps stringing this out by tagging him a third time.

Sure, Cousins could turn this into a summer-long saga, making things even uglier for a franchise whose perpetual disarray now includes a fired general manager. (Scot McCloughan’s previous absence, of course, is one reason the ESPN report that Cousins approached Snyder directly makes sense.)


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But what you have to understand about Cousins, 28, is he views this as a long game. He’s certainly not missing game checks worth $1.41 million apiece. And it’s highly unlikely he’d risk disrupting his own development by skipping a whole offseason, showing up just before the opener and potentially playing poorly in 2017, right before he gets his crack at the open market.

The sides still aren’t in the same ballpark on a long-term deal in terms of average annual salary or guarantees that, from Cousins’ perspective, would have to exceed $50 million to make financial sense (even assuming the Redskins would use the transition tag, not the franchise tag, if it came to that in 2018). A tag-and-trade has always made sense as an alternative. And there’s no question the 49ers and Kyle Shanahan, Cousins’ old coordinator in Washington, want him and have the spending power to pay him even after agreeing to terms Wednesday with veteran Brian Hoyer. San Francisco wouldn’t be the only team interested, either.

Shipping Cousins out would leave a critical question, though: Who’d start at quarterback for the Redskins in 2017? Because with Snyder at the helm, dealing the starting QB and then going 7-9 would be grounds to get a lot of people fired, even if he ultimately would be the one signing off on the move.

(The 49ers do own the draft's No. 2 pick, but none of this year's top quarterbacks is regarded as an immediate starter.)

If there’s no trade in sight — and there’s still a lot of time for the Redskins to change course — bet on Cousins signing his franchise tender before offseason practices begin and doing everything he can to ensure he gets what he wants next year.


Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero

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