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Cousins Expected to Receive Franchise Tag
Thursday, Feb. 2
Jason La Canfora of CBS reported that the Redskins "will franchise the impending free-agent quarterback and are prepared to engage in talks in a lucrative long-term deal with him."
Cousins Would Present High Price for 49ers
Friday, Jan. 27
According to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, a high-ranking personnel member indicated he has doubts about Cousins joining the 49ers because of the high salary it would take to land the quarterback in free agency and the draft picks it would take to trade for him.
On Jan. 20, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that another option for Washington could be trading Cousins to the San Francisco 49ers, if the 49ers are able to hire Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as their head coach:
If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan. Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network wrote on Jan. 22 that the 49ers would "make a run" at Cousins if Washington doesn't place the exclusive franchise tag on the quarterback.
Schefter previously reported that the 49ers would offer Shanahan their vacant head coaching job when the Falcons' season ends.
Cousins Comments on Future
Thursday, Jan. 26
"Under the right set of circumstances, it'd be great to be back there [in Washington]," Cousins said, per Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post.
When asked if he'd play under a one-year franchise tag for the second year in a row, Cousins said, via ESPN.com's James Walker: "We will cross that bridge when we come to it, but I would probably do what I did last year. I will sign it and play with it. I'm not afraid."
Allen Comments on Cousins' Future
Thursday, Jan. 26
Team president Bruce Allen stated on Wednesday that he aims to sign Cousins to a long-term contract, according to the Washington Post's Mike Jones.
"We will, shortly," Allen said about opening up contract negotiations. "It's nothing to hurry into right now, but he knows our intent."
Gruden Comments on Cousins' Future
Tuesday, Jan. 24
"We fully anticipate Kirk coming back," head coach Jay Gruden said, per Jones.
Cousins Would Be Big Upgrade for 49ers Under Center
Cousins is stuck in limbo right now, just as he was last year. He can be given the franchise tag for a second straight season. If Washington opts not to franchise Cousins without reaching a long-term deal, the potential for a trade becomes moot, because he can negotiate with anyone for the best possible contract.
Even though Cousins' 2016 season didn't have a happy ending, with two interceptions in a 19-10 loss to the New York Giants to keep Washington out of the postseason, the 28-year-old posted his second straight strong season.
Cousins has thrown for 9,083 yards, 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions with a completion percentage of 68.3 since becoming Washington's full-time starter in 2015.
By comparison, the duo of Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick combined to throw for 3,166 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 58.5 percent of their attempts in 2016.
The 49ers have many more needs than just a quarterback—their defense allowed the most points and rushing yards in the NFL last season—but they have to take big swings if they want to take any steps toward relevance in the near future.
Cousins would certainly make the 49ers offense more interesting than it has been in recent years, though the first order of business is getting a head coach and general manager to build a roster.