Redskins officially place franchise tag on Kirk Cousins

In this Dec. 20, 2015, photo, Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Landover, Md. Forget about complicated playoff permutations. It's suddenly all become so simple for the Washington Redskins: Win their game against the Philadelphia Eagles next weekend, and coach Jay Gruden's club will clinch the NFC East title. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Redskins have placed the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins, setting him up to earn about $20 million for next season while still leaving open the possibility of a long-term contract.

Tuesday was the deadline for NFL teams to use a franchise or transition tag. By choosing the franchise tag, the Redskins prevent Cousins from becoming an unrestricted free agent — a status that would leave Washington with nothing in return if the player reached a deal with another team.

Cousins had a breakthrough year last season, his fourth in the league but first as a full-time starter, taking the job from Robert Griffin III late in preseason and never letting go. Washington won the NFC East behind Cousins.

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