Redskins' dead set on keeping Kirk Cousins -- but at what cost?

The following item is excerpted from the latest edition of Albert Breer's exclusive Inside the NFL Notebook:

At one point earlier this season, before the leaves fell, the Washington Redskins weren't planning on using the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins, because of the promise that it fall north of $19 million, depending on where the cap is set. Now? They've come to grips with the fact that they might need to.

Per sources, the Redskins intend to execute a blockbuster deal with their new franchise quarterback before the deadline to tag players in early March, but are fully prepared to franchise Cousins if they can't beat the clock. As one source explained it, "He's not getting out of the building."

That's a pretty remarkable turn of events, when you consider only three quarterbacks have been franchised this decade -- Peyton Manning (2011), Mike Vick (2011) and Drew Brees (2012) -- and Cousins wasn't even the starter coming out of training camp. Thing is, he's answered pretty much every question there is to answer since then. He broke a 29-year-old club record with 4,166 yards passing, threw 29 touchdown passes, led the NFL in completion percentage (69.8), guided the team to a division title and cut way down on his turnovers, throwing just 11 picks on 543 attempts after throwing nine interceptions on 204 attempts last season.

What's he worth on the open market? It's worth looking at the 2014 extension received by Andy Dalton (Jay Gruden's QB in Cincinnati), which has a base value of $96 million over six years, $19 million in additional upside and is structured in a year-to-year manner. Cousins played his rookie deal out, while Dalton got his extension with a year left, but Dalton had a longer track record of success when his new deal was executed than Cousins does now. And you can add two years of inflation, too. Still, this is a pretty good issue for the Redskins to have going forward.

After four years, it looks like they did get their quarterback out of the 2012 draft. It's just not the one they invested so deeply in then.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer.