WASHINGTON — After the Redskins’ public response to Kirk Cousins declining their contract offer, it would be easy to accuse the organization of pettiness. The quarterback himself, however, doesn’t see it that way.
Cousins addressed a number of fans’ concerns during an exclusive interview with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier — sponsored by Lindsay Auto — Tuesday morning, one day after the deadline for the Redskins to sign Cousins to a multi-year deal.
“My take would be different than what maybe it appeared public perception was,” Cousins said of Redskins president Bruce Allen’s statement. “I understand where he and the organization are coming from. I think in his position, you have to do that, you have to be clear with where the offer was and the fact that they did there part and it was a great starting point.”
“I think it was a fair offer. I respect and appreciate Bruce’s approach,” he said. “He communicated with me that they were going to need to let the story be known as to where they were coming from and I said I totally understand that.
“That’s why I say, when the communication was positive and we’re all on the same page, that whatever you want to call it — release, or that statement — was no surprise to me. I knew that something like that was going to be coming out and I understand where he’s coming from. It doesn’t offend me, it doesn’t bother me. I can see myself in his shoes wanting to get the message out. Totally understand that it doesn’t rub me the wrong way at all.”
Cousins says the time constraints that go along with the franchise tag, which the Redskins used on the quarterback for the second straight year, played a huge role in both sides not being able to come to an agreement in time for the July 17 deadline.
“We felt like I need a little more time,” Cousins said of he and his agent, Mike McCartney. “I felt like I want to allow the next six months to give me more information about our organization so that I can make a more informed decision.”
“There have been a lot of changes in our organization since the end of last season,” he said. “So I want to allow time to help make this decision. I believe wisdom is never impatient, and so I think it’s smart to slow the process down, and to be patient and to allow things to play themselves out, to gather more information. I want to make the best decision I can. Being that in most NFL situations, this is the only year that’s promised to us anyways, I don’t feel a whole lot of extra security by having a long-term deal, so the long-term deal didn’t really scare me.”
“The franchise tag rules made this negotiation challenging from the jump,” he added. “It defined the entire negotiation going back to even 2015, and that’s not the Redskins’ fault, it’s just the rules of the league, rules that were set up before I even came into the league. My agent and I, we did not asked to be tagged, but we were tagged, and once we were tagged, it framed our entire process and how we went about this.”
Cousins spoke more than positively about Allen, who some might argue left Cousins hanging out to dry with his public statement Monday, saying Allen took the time to fly to Michigan to meet and negotiate a contract.
“I appreciated the opportunity to fully communicate where we’re coming from,” Cousins said, “and why it’s in our best to allow more time to pass before making that longer term decision. It was a good discussion. He gave us a lot of time. And we all got on the same page, and I think that was helpful going forward.”
Asked directly if he desires to remain with the team, Cousins said, “It has always been my first choice to be with the Redskins. When you look around the league and you see great quarterbacks, they nearly all played for only one team, and the ones that haven’t, it really wasn’t their choice. It was usually the situation dictated that they had to move on, but that wasn’t their preference.”
“I’m no different,” he said. “I would love to be with the Redskins long term. And that’s why I think that there’s still a lot of hope that next offseason, when the season ends, the Redskins are going to have I think about two months to be the exclusive team that I can talk with. And then they still have the opportunity, if we’re not anywhere at that point, to use one of two tags, and then from there there’s still time.”
Cousins shows literally no fear toward the notion of playing football, a brutally physical game, on one-year contracts. He’s done it for each of the past two seasons, and will now do so again in 2017.
“I could play for the Redskins for the next 10 years on one-year deals,” Cousins said. “It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with the Redskins and don’t want to be with this team; I just think the structure of the NFL is such that one-year deals are the best option.”
“This is not baseball. This is not basketball. These contracts are not fully guaranteed,” he said. “And, essentially, eight-to-nine-out-of-10 players are playing on one-year deals. Most of us don’t have guarantees beyond the first year, and if we do, it’s only for the second year, so it’s really a two-year deal. It may say five-, six-, seven-year deal — that’s just not the case. So if the best we can get is a two-year deal, I might as well just keep playing on one-year deals and give myself some freedom on the other side.”
“As of last week, I was still praying about whether or not to send an offer,” Cousins said. “And it was just within the last few days that we really closed the book and felt peace about just playing on a one-year deal.”
“Everything’s trending in the right direction,” he said. “Everything’s moving in a positive way. I just, if they’re going to impose some deadline on me on July 17, I just don’t feel peace about making that decision. If the deadline had been October or November, maybe we get a deal done, but I didn’t choose when the deadline is. I have to operate within other rules that have been placed on me, and with that being the case, I’m going to choose to have six more months of time to decide things.”
Cousins’ Christian faith has deeply guided his professional decisions, and to demonstrate how personal it is to him, he brought fans back to his arrival in D.C., as a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, the second quarterback drafted by the Redskins behind Robert Griffin III, the second overall pick.
“First of all, what rarely ever gets reported is that ultimately this decision is not about anything more importantly than my faith,” Cousins said. “My faith is ultimately driving this decision. Do I feel like the Lord is leading me to make this decision or that decision and where does he give me peace?
“I stood at Rookie Minicamp shortly after being drafted and the questions I was receiving from media at that time were: ‘It’s a dead end. How do you feel about being here? It appears like your career is going to be put on pause now and there really isn’t any future for you here in Washington. Can you speak to that?’ And my answer then is my answer now: I’m going to trust in the Lord’s plan for my life.”
“He brought me to D.C. then. He had a plan for me,” Cousins continued. “I didn’t know if it was going to be for football or for something else, but he placed me in Washington, D.C. for a reason. I believe that with my whole heart, and as a result, I was content to be patient and allow time to reveal that and to continue to just wait on the Lord.
“And he has revealed that, and he’s done far more in my five seasons here in Washington than I ever thought he would. And so here I sit and people are saying, ‘It appears to be a dead end. After this year, what’s going to happen to Kirk?’ And I would say it’s the same answer: I’m trusting the Lord.”
“I know where I’m going to be the next six months, that’s all that matters,” he said. “But I’m going to trust the Lord for the future, and just as he led me to D.C. five years ago and placed me here, I’m not leaving until he’s led me somewhere else. And as he continues to keep me in D.C., I’m going to continue to stay and so ultimately that’s what drives me, that’s what drives this negotiation, that’s what drives my and my family’s decision-making and that will continue to be the ultimate factor in this whole process.”