Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins is set to become a free agent again this offseason, but the Washington Redskins could prevent that from happening by guaranteeing him an awful lot of money in 2018. Are they willing to do that for a third straight season?

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, there are some people in NFL circles who believe the Redskins are planning to use the franchise tag on Cousins for the third consecutive year. That would give Cousins a raise of 44 percent on the $23.94 million he made under the tag in 2017, raising his salary for 2018 to a whopping $34.47 million. If that happens, Cousins will have pocketed more than $72 million over three years.

Obviously, paying one player nearly $35 million is not a great way to manage the salary cap. As Florio notes, Washington could also consider using the transition tag on Cousins. That would bump his salary to $28.72 million for next season, but it would also give other teams an opportunity to negotiate a long-term contract with the quarterback. If Cousins agreed to a deal with another team, the Redskins would either have to match it or let him walk.

Cousins is only 29 and has played at a high level for the past three seasons, so it’s a virtual certainty that another team would try to sign him if Washington uses the transition tag. However, that would allow them have the market for Cousins set itself rather than continuing with long-term negotiations that have not been successful for the past two years.

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden recently made it clear how he feels about Cousins’ contract situation, and his thoughts are likely shared by most of the team’s players. Good quarterbacks are very difficult to find in the NFL. Unless Cousins wants out of Washington, it’s time to step up and lock him up for several years.

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This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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