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With No Long-Term Deal, Kirk Cousins Will Play Under Franchise Tag In 2016


The Washington Redskins and Kirk Cousins couldn't come to an agreement on a long-term contract by the July 15 deadline, meaning the quarterback will play 2016 on the franchise tag.

The 4 p.m. deadline came and went on Friday, and as was expected during the weeks leading up to July 15, the Washington Redskins and quarterback Kirk Cousins never came to an agreement on a long-term contract.

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins on Wednesday was named to the NFL's 'Top 100 Players of 2016' list, checking in at No. 85.

Cousins will now be forced to play under the franchise tag for the entire 2016 season, becoming the first quarterback since Drew Brees in 2012 to play with the tag for a full year.

The two sides had negotiated on and off leading up to the deadline after the Redskins placed the non-exclusive tag on Cousins in March, which assured he would stay with the team for this season instead of testing the open market.

Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan noted multiple times throughout the offseason that both players and coaches want Cousins around for the long term, but also that he wouldn't "force it" when it came to negotiating a contract.

"He's our leader on offense. He's our quarterback. He won the East last year and that's pretty cool because that's what we need here," McCloughan said in May. "We need those types of guys, and those are the kinds of guys I'm trying to draft, but also, we can't go crazy because it's about 53, it's not about one. That's what we keep preaching and what we're going to keep preaching, but yes, we want [Kirk] here."

In his first full season as the starter, Cousins set several single-season franchise records, completing 379-of-543 passing attempts for 4,166 yards, along with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

During the team's final stretch, he was selected as NFC Offensive Player of the Month, which also included Week 17 action in early January, accumulating 13 touchdowns an d just one interception while also rushing for touchdowns in back-to-back games against the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills.

In a late-December game with division championship implications against the Philadelphia Eagles, Cousins passed for 365 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in a 38-24 NFC East-clinching victory. The following week, Cousins threw for 176 yards and three touchdowns on just 15 pass attempts against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half. After signing his franchise tender, the questions about whether he would sign a long-term contract continued throughout the spring, but Cousins remained steady in saying he never felt pressured by the financial negotiations. "I think I'm happy to play on the franchise tag," he said during OTAs, explaining that nothing changed his perspective in preparing for the season.

"In this league nothing's promised to you," Cousins said. "Whether it's a one-year deal or a 10-year deal, you've got to go out and prove it every game, every year. I feel very stabilized in my role and just excited to take advantage of the opportunity that I have before me, which is a phenomenal opportunity."

Redskins vice president of football administration, Eric Schaffer,  told ESPN 980 in June that the entire organization has been supportive of Cousins and that he is an "easy guy to root for."

"Kirk, as we know, is one of the smartest guys we've ever been around, is a team guy, a great guy and Kirk's earned everything that he's ever gotten in the NFL," Schaffer said. "Everything is very positive from both sides, as we have said before. We all want to make this work out and we all want to make this work out long term."

That will now have to wait until the Redskins 2016 season concludes.  

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