WASHINGTON — Another day, another turn of the Kirk Cousins windmill.
Cousins has made the media rounds this week, dropping daily hints after practice for the Pro Bowl about his strategy for handling his upcoming free agency. On Wednesday, Cousins told CBS Sports he’d love to build something in Washington, adding this caveat: “We’ll see if the decision-makers let that happen.”
The Redskins don’t have to let Cousins hit free agency. For the second straight offseason, they can choose to franchise-tagging the quarterback, but at a considerably escalated price. It would cost them roughly $23.94 million — up from $19.953 million in 2016.
If presented with the franchise tag again, would Cousins sign it?
“We will cross that bridge when we come to it, but I would probably do what I did last year,” Cousins told ESPN on Thursday. “I will sign it and play with it. I’m not afraid.”
Redskins brass have sung Cousins’ praises in recent days. Asked Tuesday if, on a scale of 1 to 10, the likelihood Cousins is a Redskin next year is a “10,” team president Bruce Allen said “yeah.”
“Kirk’s our quarterback,” he said. “He played well the last two years, and I know there’s other speculation, but it doesn’t come from the Redskins.”
Allen later told 106.7 The Fan’s Brian McNally the goal will be to reach a long-term deal when negotiations resume.
Coach Jay Gruden expects Cousins back in a Redskins uniform, too. At some point, though, someone will have to give in, and with a third consecutive franchise tag expected to grow upwards of $34 million in 2018, it’s unlikely Cousins will budge.
“It’s received a lot of attention, but there’s a lot of guys who finish the season and are free agents and they don’t know what’s gonna happen,” Cousins told ESPN Thursday. “Fortunately, in my situation, I think there will be some teams that are interested. There are guys who enter free agency and don’t even know if they’ll have a job, so a lot of us go through this. It’s a part of the business.”
“I’ve got a great agent — Mike McCartney’s done a phenomenal job for me through my first five years, pretty much called everything before it’s happened,” he said. “So I trust Mike to do the job, to protect me, and I feel good about what’s gonna transpire here going forward.”
Despite his mountains of leverage, Cousins still values continuity, and there’s no better opportunity for that than a chance to start for the third straight year under the same head coach.
“Continuity’s a big part of football,” Cousins told ESPN. “You want to play with the same center year, after year after year and build that relationship. So continuity’s important, and we’ve started to develop that in Washington, and I’d love to be able to help build Washington and bring ’em back to the days of the Hogs and those championships.”
“So that’s certainly what we’re always striving for,” he added. “And under the right set of circumstances, I would love to be back.”