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Agent: Redskins QB Cousins signs franchise contract for 2017

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

By HOWARD FENDRICH

AP Pro Football Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) Kirk Cousins' agent says the Washington Redskins' quarterback has signed his contract for the exclusive franchise tag.

Mike McCartney tweeted the news on Friday morning, 10 days after the team placed the tag on Cousins, guaranteeing him a salary of about $24 million for the 2017 season.

The Redskins did not immediately confirm that Cousins had signed the deal.

Cousins made nearly $20 million last season under a tag. He is the first QB in NFL history to sign franchise tags in consecutive years, but his awkward relationship is still in flux with the team that drafted him in the fourth round the same year it took Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick.

The Redskins - who fired general manager Scot McCloughan on Thursday, two years into his four-year deal, without saying why - now have until July 15 to try to work out a long-term deal with Cousins. They also still have the option of trading the quarterback, who has broken the franchise record for passing yards in each of his two seasons as Washington's starter.

His top two targets, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, left to sign with other teams on Thursday, the opening day of free agency. Washington also lost defensive end Chris Baker.

Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 yards last season, and set another team mark with more than 400 completions, passing for 25 TDs and 12 interceptions with a completion percentage of 67.

The Redskins lost four of their last six games - including 19-10 at home against the division rival New York Giants in the regular-season finale, a defeat sealed by Cousins' late interception - to end up 8-7-1 and miss the playoffs, a year after winning the NFC East.

On Friday, the Redskins announced the signings of three defensive free agents: linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain and safety D.J. Swearinger.

The 6-foot-3, 310-pound McGee started only nine games and had 2.5 sacks - both career highs - for the Oakland Raiders. He has played in 51 NFL games, making 18 starts. McClain, also listed at just over 300 pounds, was with the Dallas Cowboys last season, getting 2.5 sacks in a career-best 15 starts. He has appeared in 62 career games, with 27 starts, for four teams.

Swearinger has six interceptions in four seasons with three clubs. He started the final 12 games of last season for the Arizona Cardinals, picking off three passes.

After its defense ranked 28th in the league last season, the Redskins fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry.

At first, Cousins was a backup behind Griffin, only getting a chance to play when the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year would get injured. Eventually, under coach Jay Gruden, Cousins got a chance to be the full-fledged starter in place of Griffin two years ago.

In 46 regular-season NFL games, including 41 starts, Cousins has thrown for 12,113 yards, 72 touchdowns and 42 picks.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Updated March 10, 2017

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