RICHMOND - Talking for the first time since both sides did not reach a long-term deal, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said he and Kirk Cousins will focus on football, not contracts.
"The contract will take care of itself," Gruden said Wednesday from the Redskins training camp facility.
"We won't have any conversations about the contract, any of his future contracts, any of that stuff. All we're going to focus on is this year and him getting better and being the best quarterback he can possibly be."
Earlier this year, Cousins signed the franchise tag offer from the Redskins, a one-year deal that will pay him nearly $20 million for the 2016 season. The club had until July 15 to work on a long-term deal with their quarterback, but none was reached. Reports showed the sides to be quite far apart in negotiations, but Gruden does not expect the negotiations to have any impact on the season.
Gruden said he knows Cousins intends to focus just on football now that the team is in camp, and with it, heightended expectations.
"He's a great football player, made great strides last year," the coach said of his QB. "We're all excited about it but he's got to continue that progress."
Cousins made significant progress in 2015. Named the Redskins starter in August, Cousins relatively average first half of the season was more than eclipsed by his second half. The Redskins finished the season on a four-game win streak to claim the NFC East title, while the team scored at least 34 points in each of their last three regular season games. Along the way, Cousins 4,166 passing yards set a new franchise record.
Despite the strong finish to 2015, some believe the lack of a long-term deal means questions remain for Cousins.
"He's got a year out of film, people are going to study on him and he's going to have to study other people and prepare himself no differently," Gruden said of Cousins. "We're going to coach him no differently."
Defenses will have year of film on Cousins, yes, but the quarterback now also gets the benefit of being the unquestioned starter throughout an offseason. With contract time now over, COusins and Gruden can get back on the practice field in Richmond and continue their progress throughout training camp.
Asked what he wants Cousins to do now, Gruden was clear: "He's got to get himself ready, his body ready, his mind ready to play a tough NFL season."