The good news? Cousins is still reportedly "open" to doing a deal with the team after the season. Absent a contract before Monday at 4:00 p.m. ET, Cousins will be committed to the team for one more year at $23.94 million. The 49ers are the rumored landing spot for Cousins if the above scenario plays out.
The deadline is by no means the end of the Kirk Cousins saga. "Let's say he plays really well - he's looking at the franchise tag for $34 million". Of the three tagged players, the most high-profile situation is with Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins, who simply can't figure out a price for the future.
Yes, it is very possible that Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have had their eyes on Cousins from the moment they signed their dual six-year deals to run the 49ers, and the major theoretical impediment to that plan was a potential long-term deal between Cousins and Washington this offseason. If they can not, the negotiation window doesn't open again until after the coming season.
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The two sides couldn't come to terms on years and money, resulting in the Redskins putting the franchise tag on Cousins so they wouldn't just lose him.
As far as the transition tag goes, which would cost the Redskins $28,732,320, the reason why that's less than the franchise tag is that it would give another National Football League team the ability to sign Cousins to an offer sheet.
Of course, nearly nobody in the NFL has more cap room projected for the 2018 offseason than the 49ers, and again, everybody in the league knows this. This may sound like a broken record for Redskins fans, but at least Cousins is stating that he wants to explore free agency.
That is, if Cousins doesn't land a long-term deal with Washington on Monday.