By Bryan Frantz

WASHINGTON — Kirk Cousins never demanded a trade from the Redskins. Chris Mortensen, who first broke the story about Cousins have interest in a potential trade, never claimed Cousins demanded a trade from the Redskins. But stories get misconstrued and rumors begin flying, and suddenly an innocent question evolved into something much, much bigger.

Here is the original report:

That says Cousins “appealed personally to owner Dan Snyder for a trade.” At face value, that could certainly be understood as wanted a trade. However, that is very different from “demanding” a trade.

Cousins joined Adam Schefter on the podcast “Know Them From Adam” this week to discuss that report, as well as a litany of other issues, and he made it clear he didn’t ever demand a trade, nor did he express an inherent desire to leave Washington. He did, however, stop short of pledging his undying allegiance to the team and city, and really, it’s hard to blame him after the dysfunction that has surrounded the organization both recently and over the past nearly 20 years.

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Schefter’s first question after the introductory small talk cut right to the core of things: “What the heck is going on with your franchise these days? We’ve got GMs leaving, players going, all sorts of discussions and speculations about conversations with your — What is going on with your franchise?”

“I think it’s just a part of the offseason,” Cousins answered. “When there’s no football games to be played, there’s a lot of other things that can be talked about and it opens the door for speculation and just all kinds of different reports. It’s just part of the deal. Honestly, I’m not there and I don’t know the day-to-day and what’s going on, and so I’m pretty ignorant on things and I don’t like to talk in too much depth on stuff I’m not fully understanding. I do trust the people in charge and believe that at the end of the day will make the right decisions, and we’ll move forward.”

Schefter’s next question touched on the rumors of Cousins demanding a trade.

“What can you tell us about the conversations you did have with your owner, Mr. Snyder?”

“I’ve had really positive interactions with Mr. Snyder throughout this entire offseason,” Cousins said. “The negotiation process in general has been very positive for me, and I’m happy with how things have transpired so far. As Chris Mortensen reported — I’m not sure how it got out — I did just inquire to Mr. Snyder and to Bruce Allen just if there was any interest in trading me, just to try to get an understanding of their perspective.

“And the answer I got back was Mr. Snyder communicated his belief in me, and his desire for me to remain a Redskin, and his desire to help me by surrounding the quarterback position with all the players and coaches that you need to succeed. And that’s the kind of message to want to hear from the owner of your team. So it was a very positive conversation in the sense that he spoke belief in me and really affirmed me in my role. I felt wanted by him and by the team coming away from the call.

“Then I’m at a shoe store later that day after Chris Mortensen reported that, and the guy fitting my wife her shoe says, ‘I heard you demanded a trade.’ And I laughed and thought, ‘I don’t know where that comes from because that just wasn’t the case.’ I just called them and asked where their perspective was, and where they were coming from, and I just wanted to communicate. And so that’s kind of where that went, and then somehow it can get twisted to where an employee of the store is using the word ‘demand.’ But that’s certainly not the approach that I took.”

That’s a very different story than “Kirk Cousins Demands Trade From Redskins,” and all the other stories that have emerged over the past week.

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“So at the end of that conversation, Kirk,” Schefter continued. “Did you have any doubts that you will or won’t be with the Redskins this upcoming season?”

“Well I think you never know in the sense that, in this league, things change so fast and players can get blindsided all the time with decisions,” Cousins responded. “They’ll cut you on your birthday, they’ll cut you on the day your child is born, they’ll cut you on Christmas Eve. You just never know what’s going to happen. I guess I’m always going to keep an open mind so I try not to get blindsided. But from what I heard in the conversation, I felt very much supported and I felt that the owner and the president of the team want me to be the quarterback there and want me to be the quarterback there for a long time.”

Appearances can be deceiving, especially in Washington. With the Redskins, things seem to hardly ever be what they appear. That is, until the Redskins deny something is what it appears to be, in which case it often ends up being exactly what it appears; this is essentially how the Scot McCloughan ordeal went, as the team claimed everything was fine and McCloughan would soon be back with the team, despite myriad reports that he would soon be fired, and he was indeed quickly fired.

However, Cousins has now gone on record once again expressing his interest in returning to the team, and he passed up an easy opportunity to take a shot at the organization while instead praising it for handling his negotiations well.

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Schefter reiterated what Cousins claimed.

“For what it’s worth, what was conveyed to me was ‘We are not trading Kirk Cousins,'” Schefter said. “That was repeated to me over and over. Now, your organization is also smart enough not to let on a sliver of doubt, even if they were entertaining that notion, so I don’t think they’d ever say anything. But the feeling that I got talking to them was they had no interest in doing that at that time, even if might make some sense. So what about your future in Washington? Because this will be, right now, what is scheduled to be your second straight year on a franchise tag, and no quarterback’s ever played two straight years on a franchise tag.

“Do you see yourself in Washington long-term, Kirk?”

“No, I see myself keeping an open mind,” Cousins answered. “I see myself going through this negotiation process as there’s still time until the July 15 deadline. And from there you still have a whole 16-game season, and hopefully more games than that. And then from there, you can still be tagged again. And this entire process for me, from a contractual standpoint, has been framed by the franchise tag rules. It hasn’t really been framed by my market value. I would be content to go to the market and see what that value is and settle for whatever that is. But because of the franchise tag rules, and the team’s use of the tag, that just hasn’t taken place.

“So as a result, my agent has had this whole negotiation from the perspective of the franchise tag rules. And until that system of the tag is removed from the equation, or removed from the collective bargaining agreement altogether, that’s gonna frame the entirety of my agent’s approach. We’ll just keep going.

“People, I’ve heard say, ‘There’s no chance they franchise tag him or even transition tag him the following season,’ and I chuckle because if the team has franchise tagged me for two years in a row, it’s because they expect me to play at a high level. I think if we play at a very, very high level — the goal for every team in this league is to win a Super Bowl — if we go win a Super Bowl next year, I’m pretty confident they’re going to be tagging me and bringing me back. So I guess I say to people, if the season’s gonna go the way everyone wants it to and hopes it will in Washington, then let’s hope I’m getting tagged again.

“There’s still more of this story to write over time, and that’s what the season’s all about, and we’ve got to play 16 more games.”

The Redskins quarterback continued speaking with the ESPN reporter for about 25 minutes, though much of the rest of the interview isn’t nearly as hard-hitting. The pair discusses Cousins’ favorite fast food, his wife’s pregnancy, his father’s influence on his life, how he uses his faith, and his take on the NCAA Tournament. But there are two other nuggets worth mentioning.

Cousins talked about the Redskins’ playmakers on offense stepping up in the absence of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, and he added that he’s a big fan of Terrelle Pryor. Pryor signed with Washington despite the ongoing turmoil, so far the only coveted free agent to do so, and he did so while acknowledging a question mark at the quarterback position. But Cousins is looking forward to working with the converted quarterback, and it probably didn’t hurt his feelings to have another receiver added to what was previously a very thin group.

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Finally, Schefter asked Cousins why he decided to sign the franchise tag on Friday instead of either waiting until the July 15 deadline or doing it right away. Cousins waited about 10 days after the tag was placed on him before he agreed to sign it, a curious decision but one that ultimately means little.

“I’ve got nothing to hide,” Cousins said. “I’ve always said the franchise tag is my friend, I’m not afraid of it.”

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