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Redskins place non-exclusive franchise tag on QB Kirk Cousins

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Will Cousins sign a long-term deal? (2:51)

ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim explains why using the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins could lead to an even bigger deal for the quarterback down the road. (2:51)

The Washington Redskins have used their non-exclusive franchise tag on QB Kirk Cousins, the team announced Tuesday.

Both sides want to continue working on a long-term deal, but sources say Cousins is comfortable playing under the franchise tag, which will pay him $19.95 million this season. The Redskins have until July 15 to complete a long-term deal or Cousins will play under the tag. The sides do not appear close to a deal.

Under the non-exclusive tag, Cousins can sign with another team, but the Redskins would receive two No. 1 draft picks as compensation. So for another team to sign Cousins, it would have to meet his asking price and then surrender two high draft choices, a hefty sum for a player coming off his first full year as a starter. That could be negotiated, but it's still a long-shot scenario.

The Redskins drafted Cousins in the fourth round of the 2012 draft -- three rounds after selecting Robert Griffin III. But Cousins, 27, rose from being a backup in his first three seasons to a starter in 2015.

Before this past season, Cousins had started nine games and appeared in 14, throwing 18 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. His interception issues continued early in the 2015 season, as he threw six touchdowns and eight picks in the first six games.

But Cousins caught fire after that, finishing with 23 touchdowns and three interceptions in the final 10 regular-season games. He helped lead Washington to the NFC East title with a 9-7 record.

The Redskins have said numerous times in private that Cousins is their long-term starter and consistently say they believe in him. Members of the football operation discussed offering him a long-term deal early in the season -- before his hot finish.

But before the team agrees to offer Cousins the contract he wants, sources say Washington wants to see more than just a strong nine or 10 games.

Teammates say Cousins steadied the franchise after a rough August in which the team benched Griffin, who was once thought to be the face and future of the Redskins. Cousins energized the fan base after leading a comeback from a 24-0 deficit vs. Tampa Bay, prompting the now-famous phrase he uttered en route to the locker room: "You like that!"