By Chris Lingebach

Yes, Kirk Cousins was surprised — just as every fan was — to see the Redskins had traded for another starting quarterback in Alex Smith.

“It was a surprise. I was actually working out at my hotel room here in Minneapolis,” Cousins told Mike Jones of USA TODAY, in his first public comments since Tuesday’s blockbuster trade. “And when I finished the workout, I went over to my phone and saw the news.”

“You know, every player looks forward to free agency and it looks like I’m gonna be a free agent March 14,” he said. “I guess there’s still some days to check off, but that’s where I’m headed and it should be an exciting process. I haven’t picked where I wanted to play since 2007 as a high school student, so it should be an interesting process.”

Never before has a proven franchise quarterback hit free agency as Cousins should, at least not without a cloud of mystery. For Cousins, is the chance to test free agency at peak value his dream scenario?

“Time will tell,” Cousins said. “We don’t quite know how it’s gonna end yet, but it is a little unprecedented. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees both went to free agency, if you will, but they were injured at the time. They ended up proving that it didn’t matter, but at the time, there was a little bit of a question mark there. Fortunately, currently, I’m healthy. That’s exciting and we’ll see what it leads to, but you hopefully want some teams out there to pursue you and then find the right fit.”

Asked if it felt like the writing was on the wall for him in Washington, Cousins said, “No. It really didn’t. Obviously everything is one year at a time, one day at a time in this league. I still felt like there was a good chance I’d be back. I was keeping an open mind. After going through it now for so many years, I knew that a lot of curve balls get thrown in this league and nothing really surprises me at this point.”

“I think Washington can win. I think they’re in a good place,” he continued. “And whether it was going to be me or Alex Smith, or somebody else, I think they’re in a position to be successful.”

Cousins was asked for his thoughts on seeing so many star players from teams in need of a quarterback publicly pitch his services.

“I have high school friends letting me know that, ‘Hey, Von Miller’s in your corner. Patrick Peterson’s in your corner. Adam Thielen’s in your corner.’ Any time you hear positive things from your peers, it means a great deal,” he said. “But I think it goes to show there’s a lot of great options and hopefully we can find the best possible fit. But it is an honor to hear that kind of thing from my peers.”

Cousins says he’ll look back fondly on his time with the Redskins.

“Positive memories,” he said. “I met my wife, got engaged to my wife in D.C. right on the Capitol Hill. Our first son, Cooper, was born in D.C. A lot of special memories. We’ll always look back on it fondly when we go back. Unless something unforeseen happens when we go back to pack up, my wife said she’ll be leaving with a tear in her eye.”

“So it was a special time for us, a lot of great memories,” he continued. “I grew so much as a football player, I grew so much as a person, and it’s tough to leave behind so many great teammates, support staff, coaches — a lot of relationships that are tough to move on from, and while we’ll keep in touch, not seeing them on an everyday basis is tough.”

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan on Twitter

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