Kirk Cousins helped create a fan event with a local radio station that will donate the proceeds to a Washington, D.C., charity that mentors youth and adults. This is a good thing, obviously, and should be viewed as such in a real world context.
Yet somehow, in terms of image, it’s the Washington Redskins organization benefitting most from Friday’s event. That is, if you believe everything said by Kirk Cousins.
Let’s just not kid ourselves into thinking that even after the nearly two-hour interview/Q&A with 106.7 The Fan and ticket-buying fans we have any better sense if a long-term contract is coming. This drama started back in 2015. Cousins just finished playing on the equivalent of a third, one-year deal. Playing contractual chicken a bit longer won’t matter.
"I see us taking our time. I see us waiting and being patient," said Cousins, who made over $43 million the past two seasons while playing on the “franchise” tag.
Only the naïve or insanely optimistic thought otherwise. Then again, Cousins repeatedly mentioned Friday’s midday event at Jammin Java in Vienna, Virginia, as a time and place when he would shed light on his thinking. The quarterback did this when passing on answering questions about his future during late season media sessions with reporters. The event raised approximately $10,000 based on ticket sales.
This tease likely had some believing or at least hoping that Cousins would play the honest card and show his true feelings about his 2018 home and, even juicier, the Redskins organization.
The primary storyline with the contract talks, one carried blindly by many fans and media members, always has the Redskins wearing the black hat. Essentially, they don’t buy into Cousins even though he’s rewritten the franchise record books during his three seasons as the starter. Since 2015, it’s the Redskins not putting forth good faith effort in contract talks. This angle remained in force even with multiple revelations, including one from his own father, showing Camp Cousins passing on offers.
This was the quarterback’s chance to explain his view. He did – and said everyone has it all wrong.
Cousins stated Friday that he and his agent understood why in 2015, the quarterback’s first year as the starter, the Redskins perhaps were not all in with a big deal.
“It felt like that's what was needed,” Cousins said of the waiting game, “but after that, from Day 1 of last offseason, I felt like it was total belief from the Redskins. We want you here – and I felt wanted. Since then I’ve never felt a need to prove it to them or that they’re doubting me. I think that narrative carried, but it wasn’t really true. I think they were all in last summer. We felt like we wanted to take a little more time, which allowed that narrative to persist.”
This is amazing. For those who club the organization repeatedly or recently opined how everybody in the NFL knows what Cousins is except the owner and president of his own team, this revelation must feel head-spinning.
Of course, hours before the Redskins played on Thanksgiving Day, a report from a national NFL insider said the Redskins planned to use the final five games of the season to evaluate the quarterback heading into expected contract talks. For some this became another example of Washington bungling the case.
When asked about the report a few days later by the same radio hosts from Friday’s event, Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, Cousins said, “If you still need five more games, or five-plus, to make a decision, so be it, but I’d like to think that I’ve played a lot of football here.”
On Friday, Cousins played nice.
"I feel at peace about their belief in me and where they're going forward from here,” he said.
There are several options for the leverage-holding Redskins going forward, including a third franchise tag, which would mean $34 million in 2018. In the past, Cousins said he did not truly have an issue with the Redskins applying the exclusive franchise tag, which eliminates other teams from negotiating.
It appears Cousins’s preference now is to get off the uncertainty train.
"There's a part of me that would like to get settled," Cousins said.
When asked early in the event if he wanted to stay with the Redskins, Cousins said, “I’d be foolish to say I don’t want to be here. … I do feel the short answer is yes.”
Cousins is no fool. He is one of the best politicians around and knows what’s coming up. Drafted by the Redskins in 2012, Cousins, who turns 30 in August, understands this might be his one big chance at testing his true market value. There is no upside in crushing the organization other than simply to reveal his cards. So, he didn’t and instead offered up kind words. Were they honest? That all depends on whether you want to believe Kirk Cousins.