When the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to trade Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins, teams like the Arizona Cardinals had to shift their plans for acquiring a starting quarterback.
Tagging Cousins would prevent him from signing where he pleases once the new NFL league year begins on March 14th, because he wouldn't become a true unrestricted free agent.
Thus, with the non-exclusive tag Kirk Cousins could seek offers from other teams.
Cousins could also delay signing the tag for months, meaning the quarterback could tie up the Redskins' cap space in free agency.
Washington was going to be a laughingstock when they lose Cousins for nothing after paying him $43 million the last two years. Much like the transition tag, the Washington Redskins would have seven days to match a signed offer sheet.
But Washington might want a say in where Cousins winds up, which would enable the Redskins to try to extract compensation in the 2018 draft rather than having him walk away for nothing this year.
Tagging Cousins, however, is a gamble for Washington, as the player could actually wield some power: no trade could be executed until Cousins signs the franchise tag, and he could dictate which teams he'd want to play for - perhaps the John Elway-run Denver Broncos - or even the length of the contract he'd be willing to sign. The Redskins, with Robert Griffin III on the roster and with uncertainty over Cousins' future, wanted to wait. However, nothing will be too important until the actual free agency period gets rolling in March.
Of course, Cousins will still have some degree of leverage if the team keeps him from becoming a free agent. I understood that. They wanted to do a deal, but because I wanted to go a little longer, it put them in a tough spot.
First, and perhaps foremost, the Browns have about $112 million in cap space this offseason, which is good for second most to spend in the National Football League (behind the San Francisco 49ers, who are thought to throw a lot at mid- season acquisition Jimmy Garoppolo). If they end up doing so, the first day to franchise players is February 20th.
"The team's gotta do what's best for them", Cousins told TMZ Sports on Thursday at the EA Sports Madden Bowl.
But, if only just for fun, let's consider which teams could possibly trade for Cousins. Once that date passes, as it did for Cousins and the Redskins the last two years, players are stuck on a one-year deal. Cousins told USA Today he spoke to owner Dan Snyder and coach Jay Gruden, but not team president Bruce Allen.