February 15th is first day NFL teams can use Franchise Tag

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Kirk Cousins celebrates his fourth-quarter touchdown pass. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Kirk Cousins celebrates his fourth-quarter touchdown pass. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

NORFOLK, Va. – Tag. You’re it.

February 15th is the first day for NFL teams to designate franchise players, i.e. use the franchise tag. The franchise tag is a one-year contract to a player for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position over the last five years, or 120 percent of the player’s previous salary.

The window for teams to use the franchise tag (only one tag is permitted per season, and many teams don’t use a tag at all) closes March 1. While teams can’t tag players after March 1st, the two sides have until 4:00pm July 15th to negotiate a multiyear contract or extension.

It’s been widely reported Kirk Cousins, the Redskins record-setting quarterback, will play under the franchise tag again in 2017. He made $19,953,000 last season on his one year contract via the franchise tag. Should Kirk be tagged, he will be the first quarterback in NFL history to receive the franchise tag in back to back seasons.

Kirk Cousins throws a pass vs. Cincinnati. (Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Kirk Cousins throws a pass vs. Cincinnati. (Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

While Cousins is expected to receive another franchise tag from the Skins, there is a question as to which tag Washington may use. If the Redskins use the non-exclusive tag, as they did in 2016, Cousins would be offered a one year deal worth no less than the average of the top five quarterback salaries over the last five years, or 120 percent of his previous salary. However, the non-exclusive tag means Cousins could negotiate with other teams. Should he sign an offer sheet with a franchise other than Washington, the Skins would have the right to match any offer or receive a pair of first-round picks as compensation should Cousins leave.

If Washington tags Kirk with the exclusive franchise tag, his one year offer would be an average of the top five quarterback salaries for the current year, or 120 percent of his previous salary, whichever is greater. The exclusive tag prohibits Cousins from negotiating with other teams.

In either scenario, Cousins can expect to earn in the ballpark of $24 million next season.