Kirk Cousins appeared on Redskins Nation on CSN on Tuesday. Host Larry Michael talked with the sixth-year quarterback about leadership and how the offense might look this season before getting to Cousins’ contract status.
Cousins is under contract with the Redskins for this season via the franchise tag. He has signed the tender, giving him a one-year guaranteed salary of $24 million. The Redskins and Cousins have until July 15 to agree to a long-term contract. If they don’t, they will have to wait until 2018, when the Redskins tag options are very expensive, meaning that Cousins could well hit free agency.
When Cousins has been asked about his contract this offseason he has been very vague and generic in his comments. What he told Michael was more of the same.
“I think the short answer is, it’s been positive. I feel good about where we’re headed,” said Cousins. “I like coach [Jay] Gruden’s quote yesterday where he said, ‘I’m not really worried about it because we’ve got him for this year and that’s really all that matters.’ That’s the way I’ve always felt. There’s so many guys on this team who are on one-year deals. Even if it says it’s a three-or four-year contract the only guarantees are this year so many of us are playing on one-year deals, I’m not the only one. We’re not going to have long careers if we don’t have a good year this year. We all don’t look much further than this season.
“I feel good about our owner, he’s done a good job communicating this offseason with me, and the same with Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden and our scouting staff, our coaches. I feel good about the direction we’re headed and we’ll see where it ends up but bottom line, I’m in a good place right now and we’ll go win a lot of football games.”
Cousins has told others that from his perspective, he’s just one of many players on one-year deals. It has been his way of saying that he is perfectly willing to play the season on the franchise tag. That makes him different in a league where many players will sacrifice future forays in free agency for the security offered by agreeing to a long-term deal and getting a signing bonus, the only money guaranteed in most NFL contracts.
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That’s smart negotiating on Cousins’ part. You have to be prepared to stick with what you have or the other side can take advantage of it. It’s also smart to keep as many options open as possible. When Michael asked him about the advantages of signing with the Redskins, Cousins make it clear that he is perfectly happy to stay in Washington.
“When you start listing all the pros, there are a lot,” he said. “This organization is second to none in terms of history, the former players, the Super Bowl trophies, an owner who’s committed to winning, who has passion about wanting his team to be successful, a head coach who I have a good relationship with, there’s been continuity there. Continuity is very important in the game of football. Teammates that I love and respect and I feel really good about, not just the offensive line but stars like Josh Norman and Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, the list goes on and on, Chris Thompson. All these guys I really enjoy playing with. So there’s a lot of positives. My wife and I love living in this city. I can go on and on. We feel really good about having been drafted here and our five years here.”
Successful starting quarterbacks rarely change teams, in part because of the advantages of continuity. Cousins could be reluctant to pull up stakes and start over someplace else in 2018, when he will turn 30. That doesn’t mean he will give the Redskins any sort of a hometown discount to stay. But he could be open to staying for a market-value offer.
These negotiating methods are the tip of the iceberg; most of the real negotiations are going on under the surface, out of our view. And reports that Cousins will be very reluctant to sign a long-term deal with the Redskins persist.
The talk is fine but it’s cheap. Serious negotiations are unlikely to take place until just before the July 15 deadline. We will see if the Redskins can persuade Cousins to get himself off of that one-year deal.