With Cousins saying he’s content to wait until March to do anything, one likely outcome could be that the Redskins will place the franchise tag on him again. At that point, they’ll try to either work out a long-term deal or trade him. I highly doubt he plays on the $34.5-million tag figure, but it would buy the Redskins time to finally receive resolution. It’s a risky maneuver because it requires finding a trade partner; my guess is one or two possibilities will emerge -- teams that perhaps aren’t in position to find one via the draft. Some teams need to find coaches (Arizona) or free up cap space (Denver). Pay attention to their moves. But both Cousins and the Redskins should have a good feel before March as to their intentions. The Redskins can still make a strong offer before March and set a tone and give Cousins something to think about.
Cousins reiterated that he’s OK playing on another one-year deal, but he also admitted he’d like to get this settled. ESPN 980’s Chris Cooley said Jay Gruden told him he wants this resolved, too. Who doesn’t? I don’t think it would be good for the organization to have him playing on another one-year deal. It’s a tired and draining topic for the fan base.
Cousins also again talked about how former general manager Scot McCloughan wanted to sign him before the 2015 free-agent period. McCloughan deserves marks for trying to do so. However, even Cousins said McCloughan wasn’t pushing for the sort of money it would have taken. McCloughan wanted him at a bargain, something that wasn’t going to happen. This is not a knock on McCloughan at all, but more a read on the situation. Based on multiple conversations, there’s no chance Cousins would have been signed had McCloughan remained -- not unless Cousins had taken a lot less money.
A lot of people -- fans and others in the organization -- agreed with McCloughan’s stance at the time. My guess is that had McCloughan stayed around last offseason, he would have pushed for a trade, recognizing a deal might never occur.
Cousins understands he might not have this opportunity again. So he will take full advantage and gauge his options. If he were fully sold on the Redskins, he wouldn’t need to test the market. He’s always said he likes being the quarterback in Washington with all that entails. He called it a “special place. Whether I’m here or not, that’s not changing.” And he mentioned how his marketing agent pointed out to him how not every team can provide the history or the fan base and how road games are attended by many Redskins fans. (Of course, home games are filled with numerous opposing fans, too.) I do believe all of this is genuine.
There’s a difference, though, between enjoying that standing, liking the city you’re in and wanting to play for the organization. Cousins must believe in the organization (there’s a reason he pointed out the Steelers; they’ve always won). But at the price it will cost to sign him, the organization must believe it can win with Cousins long-term. Belief is a two-way street.
Cousins also relayed how he was proud to leave Michigan State having helped turn the program around. In his final two seasons, the Spartans went a combined 22-5; in the previous six seasons, they were 36-38. And since Cousins left, Michigan State is 56-23. It certainly wasn’t just about Cousins, but he was clearly thrilled with what he helped build. In other words, he’s not afraid of doing that somewhere, be it here or elsewhere. But there has to be confidence in a franchise to get it done. One fan pointed out how it could unfold for him if he stays in Washington, breaking passing records and essentially becoming a lifelong ambassador for the franchise (a la Sonny Jurgensen and Joe Theismann).
Nobody should be surprised that Cousins wants to take his time. This is a man who devotes offseasons to being thorough in his preparation for the season, who schedules life in 15-minute increments. He’s someone who prides himself on being prepared and wanting as much information as possible. This might be the biggest career decision he will ever make. He will not make an emotional decision.
It was also interesting to me how Cousins relayed a conversation from his agent, Mike McCartney, near the end of the 2015 season. He told Cousins that the Redskins didn’t see him in the same light as he saw himself (or as McCartney did). I don’t know if they’ve ever been on the same page in this regard. Jay Gruden’s comments after the season were telling and, yes, they were noticed right away. But we shall soon see. The proof, for both sides, will be in how this is handled -- what offer the Redskins make and whether Cousins wants to accept or counter. Or, rather, the exact same scenario we’ve been through twice already.
I don’t know that Cousins revealed too much, but he certainly used it as a chance to explain what he wants, let the fan base know that yes, he likes it here and, perhaps, to say goodbye. Just in case.