If there's anybody at Redskins Park that Kirk Cousins owes, it's Jay Gruden. The head coach put his faith in Cousins two seasons ago, naming him the starting quarterback for the 2015 season, and largely the results have been strong.
In two seasons with Cousins at the helm, the 'Skins have a 17-14-1 record and have piled up more than 9,000 passing yards, breaking numerous franchise records in the process. While their success hasn't been tremendous, the duo of Gruden and Cousins has put the Burgundy and Gold in a competitive position for the future.
Assuming the Redskins keep their quarterback.
"We’d like to keep Kirk here obviously," the coach said to reporters in Indianapolis. "We think he’s going to be our quarterback for a long time."
As of now, the Redskins offered Cousins a guaranteed $24 million contract for 2017. The team and representatives for the QB are expected to talk about a long-term deal while at the Scouting Combine, and in January, Redskins president Bruce Allen said he expects to get a long-term deal done.
"It's very important to have your quarterback in place. We know how important that is in pro football," Gruden said. "We see his progress, we see the progress thats he’s going to make, we're excited about that."
In 2015 Cousins threw for 4,166 yards starting 16 games. In 2016, Cousins threw for 4,917 yards starting 16 games. That's discernible progress.
"We do like where he’s going with his game."
Gruden liking Cousins' game is the obvious part. The much harder part, however, is getting a deal done.
"Both parties have to come up with something. We could offer [Cousins] the world but if he doesn’t want to sign it he doesn’t have to sign it," the coach said. "And we have to do maybe a better job. So, I think it'll happen."
It's interesting that Gruden suggested it's up to Cousins to accept an offer. Some might argue it's up to the Redskins to make a realistic offer, something that didn't happen during this same contract dance in 2016.
Regardless, those decisions are not up to Gruden.
"I leave all those tags up to Bruce and obviously Scott."
Asked why the organization went with the exclusive franchise tag over the non-exclusive tag it used last year, Gruden joked, "it’s got a cooler name to it."
The actuality is the exclusive tag lets the Redskins control the proceedings, and perhaps, shows Cousins they are serious about getting a deal done.
"I think it will happen. I really do. I'm gonna coach the players that are here and I fully anticipate Kirk to be the quarterback."
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