First, Washington failed to get a long-term deal done with Kirk Cousins by the franchise deadline. Then the team topped that off by publicly throwing its quarterback under the bus. But on Tuesday, Cousins said all the right things during a radio appearance on 106.7 the Fan.
Cousins didn’t blame Washington for the lack of a long-term agreement, even if he had every right to. He thinks it has more to do with the franchise tag rules and the pressure created by the deadline. Cousins also said that he is interested in staying in Washington beyond this season, even though he’s set to spark a bidding war as a free agent next offseason.
"It has always been my first choice ... I would love to be with (Washington) long-term,” Cousins said.
After the franchise tag deadline passed on Monday, the team posted a statement from team president Bruce Allen on Twitter. Allen said that the team had offered Cousins “the highest fully guaranteed amount upon signing for a quarterback in NFL history” of $53 million, and claimed that “despite our repeated attempts, we have not received any offer from Kirk’s agent this year.”
But Cousins said he doesn’t fault Washington for how they handled the negotiations.
“I understand where (Allen) and the organization are coming from,” Cousins said. “It was a great starting point ... I think it was a fair offer. I respect and appreciate Bruce's point.”
Allen’s statement also said Cousins “prefers to play on one-year deals.” Cousins replied that he would be glad to play for Washington on one-year deals for the next decade and he wouldn’t be upset if the team tagged him again next season.
"If I'm getting tagged a third time, that means this season went really, really well, and that would be a beautiful thing,” Cousins said.
That $34.5 million salary Cousins would earn if tagged for a third consecutive season wouldn’t hurt, either — especially since it’d be fully guaranteed. Only a portion is guaranteed with a long-term deal, and it’s something Cousins would like to see change.
"I think we all as players would like to see more guarantees,” Cousins said.
It’s unusual for a franchise-caliber quarterback to hit the free agency market, so Cousins will have plenty of options next offseason. That doesn’t mean he has one foot out the door.
“I don’t believe that to be true,” Cousins said of the assumption that he wants to leave Washington.
Washington made a mess of the situation with Cousins, and to make it worse, Allen consistently gets Cousins’ name wrong. Allen called Kirk Cousins “Kurt,” but Cousins brushed that off. He said he doesn’t mind.
"I really don't,” Cousins said. “I've been called Kurt my entire life."
Cousins is handling this situation gracefully. Washington may want to take a cue from its quarterback.