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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports


ESPN: 49ers ‘hold the upper hand’ in deal for Kirk Cousins

Mar 8, 2017 at 8:44 AM


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ESPN reporter John Keim, who covers the Washington Redskins, joined KNBR to discuss what is going on with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Last week, Washington placed the exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, which means that any negotiations for the quarterback must go through them. Interested teams cannot open discussions with the quarterback, even just to see if Cousins would sign a long-term contract with them.

Keim already reported that Cousins would be open to signing a long-term contract with the 49ers and others have reported that the quarterback really wants to be with his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. In fact, Keim reported that Cousins would not sign a long-term deal if he was traded anywhere else. That really leaves Washington with two options. They can keep Kirk Cousins as their starting quarterback at a one-year rental price of $23.94 million or they can trade him to the 49ers. No other team will attempt to trade for Cousins if they do not believe he will sign a long-term deal.

If Washington decides to hold on to Cousins without signing him to a long-term contract, they will very likely lose him to free agency in 2018 when a team like the 49ers can sign him without giving up draft picks. The most Washington would receive in return for the loss would be a 2019 third-round compensatory selection.

What does Washington want in return for Cousins right now? "I think somebody reported last week an RGIII-type haul," Keim said on KNBR. "That's silly. That's not going to happen. Nobody's going to do that. If that's what they're floating, well then they're living a fantasy and other teams know it. The 49ers know it. They don't have to pay that.

"If they stick to that, then they risk losing [Cousins] next offseason and receiving only a third-round compensatory pick in 2019. They know that so I wouldn't be surprised – if they can't get a long-term deal – that they lower the demand and work out a deal with the Niners. But again, the Niners hold the upper hand here."

The 49ers' backup plan appears to be Chicago Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the 49ers and New York Jets are showing "strong interest" in the quarterback. Hoyer, an eight-year veteran, started 14 games while current 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for a season (2014) in Cleveland. That year, Hoyer passed for a career-high 3,326 yards, completing 55.3 percent of his passes and throwing 12 touchdowns compared to 13 interceptions.

The 49ers also appear to be closing in on a deal with one of Cousins' top targets in Washington. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon is expected to join the 49ers as a free agent. Of course, the team cannot officially sign him until the start of the new league year at 1 p.m. Pacific on Thursday.
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