Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins says he’s “very content” with his current situation and that he’ll embrace the challenge of proving himself again if he ends up playing on the franchise tag in 2016.
"…I'm not too worried about it,” Cousins told ESPN’s Jim Trotter at the NFLPA meetings in Hawaii this week. “I'm very content in the situation I'm in and love the opportunity to prove myself again next season. I feel like it's only fair if that's what's asked of me—to go out and prove it, that I ought to be a starting quarterback. That's okay with me."
The Redskins franchised Cousins on March 1, and the fifth-year pro promptly signed the nearly $20 million tender, squashing any speculation about soliciting offer sheets from other teams and/or holding out before it ever began.
Cousins and the Redskins now have until July 15 to hammer out a long-term extension. Last week, team president Bruce Allen said he expects the sides to come back to the bargaining table soon, though recent NFL history suggests that the talks won't turn serious until much closer to the deadline.
In the interview with ESPN—his first public comments since being tagged—Cousins compared the negotiations to the week of preparation leading up to a football game. Right now, he said, “it’s Wednesday in this negotiation”—meaning it’s early, with the heavy lifting still to come.
While Cousins sounded satisfied to allow the process to play itself out, he also hinted that he’s looking forward to a resolution, one way or another.
"I never played football thinking about money, and going forward I never want to play football thinking about money," Cousins said. "That's why I think it's important for me to play with a salary that's just locked in. I don't want to be thinking about individual accomplishments or rewards that would boost my salary or up my numbers. I just want to go out and play football and try and win games. So whether I'm making what I made last year [$660,000] or this year, I just want to play football and treat it like I did back in high school and love playing. It's a tremendous blessing to be paid to play this game the way I will this year.”
Whatever happens, Cousins indicated that the money won't change who he is. That old GMC conversion van? Even if it gets replaced by a new car, it’s sticking around as a spare vehicle.
"I'm gonna have that van as long as possible,” Cousins said. “Even when it dies I may just put a new engine in it and rebuild it for the sentimental value. Whether I drive it to work or not on a daily basis, like I did last year, that probably won't happen. I'll probably get a car to go to work back and forth. But it becomes a great car when family comes to town for games.”