Cousins is currently scheduled to make $23.9 million in 2017 under the franchise tag, per Spotrac, but could then hit free agency after the season. The deadline to sign franchise players to long-term contracts is Monday at 4 p.m. ET.
As Schefter noted, using any sort of tag on Cousins after the season would come with an astronomical cost:
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Now, the transition tag after this season for Kirk Cousins will be $28,732,320, the franchise tag $34,478,784. He's getting paid, somewhere.2017-7-16 17:59:07
A lack of resolution this offseason between the parties isn't necessarily surprising. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported, "internal disagreement exists within the organization regarding Cousins’ actual value."
Florio added that such internal disagreement has persisted since 2015, when there was debate within the organization over whether Cousins or Robert Griffin III should be the team's franchise quarterback. Cousins ultimately put that to rest with his strong play, though it hasn't been enough for Washington and Cousins to be on the same page on long-term contract talks.
In 2016, the quarterback threw for 4,917 yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, completing 67 percent of his passes. While he couldn't repeat 2016's playoff appearance, Cousins still led the team to a respectable 8-7-1 mark last year and has gone 17-14-1 in two seasons as the team's full-time starter.
Whether that warrants Cousins being paid as an elite quarterback isn't necessarily relevant given historical trends, as NFL writer Christopher Hansen noted:
Christopher Hansen @ChrisHansenNFL
Cousins is a good QB that will get paid great QB money. It happens all the time.2017-7-16 18:07:27
Indeed, Cousins likely will make huge money in free agency next offseason. Whether that is with Washington remains in question.