MOBILE, Alabama — Redskins coach Jay Gruden is confident that quarterback Kirk Cousins will be back with the team in 2017.

Gruden spoke to a small group of reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile on Tuesday. Cousins is a pending free agent, though Washington can use the franchise tag on him for a second consecutive year. There remains trade speculation, however, especially if the team uses the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins by March 1.

“We totally anticipate Kirk coming back to the Washington Redskins,” Gruden said. “And we’re excited about parlaying two very good years as a starting quarterback with a third year and just continue to watch him grow.”

It’s exactly what you’d expect Gruden to say. Cousins made $19.95 million on the franchise tag in 2016 and would be in line for close to $24 million in 2017 if the Redskins go that direction. They could also let him test the open market as an unrestricted free agent. That’s extremely unlikely. A long-term deal isn’t out of the question, either, though that appears far more likely during the summer.

Or they could make a deal. Kyle Shanahan, who worked with Cousins for two years in Washington as the offensive coordinator, is almost certain to become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Shanahan is currently the offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl-bound Atlanta Falcons.

But the Redskins aren’t thinking that far ahead – yet.

Follow Redskins reporter Brian McNally on Twitter.


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