By Chris Lingebach

If Redskins brass still needs five more games to decide whether Kirk Cousins is a viable franchise quarterback, so be it, the quarterback said in response to an NFL Network report.

The report, from Ian Rapoport published the morning of Thursday’s game against the Giants, indicated the Redskins are no longer considering transition tagging Cousins at $28.8 million in 2018, an option which would allow other teams to bid on the quarterback and Washington the opportunity to match. Rather, the organization would like to examine his performance down the home stretch of the regular season, using that to decide whether Cousins is worth either a $34.5 million franchise tag or long-term deal.

“I didn’t see it. I didn’t know about it,” Cousins said of the report Friday, after Washington’s 20-10 Thursday night win over the Giants, to 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier during his weekly segment — ‘Under Center,’ driven by the Lindsay Automotive Group.

First, the report, via NFL Network’s Rapoport:

Sources say the transition tag that would pay him $28.8 million in 2018 is not considered a viable option. Instead, it’s a decision that will come down to franchise tag for $34.5 million or allowing him to walk into free agency likely to sign with another QB-needy team.

What will be the deciding factor in that call? His play down the stretch will have a huge impact.

Riddled with injuries, with half of his offensive line on injured reserve and two top running backs out, Cousins can step to the forefront and will his team to some victories late in the season. The thinking goes that franchise QBs pull their teams to two or three wins a year that other teams with pedestrian passers have no chance at. If Cousins does, it will solidify his standing as the ‘Skins star for the future and his contract will be in line with what other elite passers get (Lions quarterback Matt Stafford’s extension averages $27 million per year).

The 5-6 Redskins are tied with the Cowboys for second place in the NFC East but, with the 10-1 Eagles running away with the division and a jam-packed Wild Card race, Washington would very likely need to run the table — by going a perfect 6-0 — down the stretch for a shot at making the playoffs. One of those wins is in the books, leaving five to go.

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“You know, I can understand the unique situation that it is, and you’re trying to find value in every player at every position,” Cousins said on 106.7 The Fan. “If you still need five more games, or five-plus, to make a decision, so be it, but I’d like to think that I’ve played a lot of football here.”

“I’ve been here six years and I think the people in the building have gotten to know me, who I am as a man, who I am as a football player, what I’m about and who I’m gonna be going forward,” he said. “And I’d like to think they can make an informed decision regardless. But if they need five more games, so be it, but I understand the need to find value and understand what you’re getting.”

“I’m gonna do my best,” he said. “It isn’t the first time. I’ve been told, ‘Hey. Go prove it. Go show us what you’ve got.’ That’s kind of been the theme, so, in that sense, it’s welcome territory and we look forward to these five games and seeing what we can do as a team.”

Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating FAN Question of the Week

What is it about the Giants? That’s a good defense, but Philadelphia’s got a good defense and you’ve torched them over your career. You’ve done the same to Dallas. What is it about the Giants that has given you guys some extra challenge? — Thomas in D.C.

“That’s a good question. I don’t know that any one answer just explains it,” Cousins said. “I think the fact that they have invested in some great players, they’ve drafted some great players — you can go down the line of guys on their defense who are legitimate Pro Bowl-type players year in and year out — so first of all, great players.”

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“I also think [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo], his scheme — the way he mixes in pressures, different fronts, drops eight at times, will bring an all-out pressure at pretty much anywhere on the field — he really keeps you guessing and makes it a chess match all game long,” said Cousins. “It has been a little bit of a grind against him in the past few years, for whatever reason.”

“I went back and watched the last game of last year in preparation for this game and we just didn’t run the ball effectively, and I think that’s also a challenge,” he said. “When you just completely shut down the run, life’s gonna be tough.”

“I think, in the times we have done better against the Giants, or in individual series where we’ve moved the ball better, it’s been because we’ve been able to have a mix of run and pass and stay ahead of the chains.”

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