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Kirk Cousins: Contacted Dan Snyder to understand direction, not demand trade

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Cousins keeping an open mind throughout negotiations (0:44)

Kirk Cousins shares his thoughts on his ongoing contract negotiations with the Redskins, saying he would be content to go on the market to gauge his value. (0:44)

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins says he never demanded a trade to owner Dan Snyder but rather inquired what the team planned to do after placing the franchise tag on him.

Cousins told ESPN's Adam Schefter on his Know Them From Adam podcast that his only reason for reaching out to Snyder, as well as team president Bruce Allen, was to gauge their intentions.

"I did inquire if there was any interest in trading me to get an understanding of their perspective," Cousins said. "The answer I got back was Mr. Snyder communicated his belief in me and desire for me to remain a Redskin."

Cousins said he first heard of his trade demands -- sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that Cousins had asked about a trade -- when a shoe store employee asked him about it while fitting his wife for shoes.

"I laughed and thought, 'I don't know where that comes from because that wasn't the case,'" Cousins told Schefter. "Somehow it got twisted to where an employee of the store is using the word 'demanded.' That's not the approach I took."

Cousins' future has been a dominant story in the NFL this offseason. The Redskins placed the franchise tag on him for a second consecutive year; he signed the tender Friday, thereby guaranteeing a $24 million payday this season.

The quarterback's side wants that figure to be the baseline average on a new contract. However, the Redskins' best offer, which was made before the scouting combine, was for $20 million per year with what one source described as "low guarantees."

Cousins could make $24 million in 2017 and, if not tagged for a third straight year, he would hit the open market and receive more than twice that in guaranteed money. If he is tagged in 2018 -- for $34.5 million if it's the franchise tag or $28 million if it's the transition tag -- then he still stands to make at least $52 million over the next two seasons.

"This entire process from a contractual standpoint has been framed by the franchise tag rules," Cousins told Schefter. "It hasn't been framed by my market value. I would be content to go to the market and see what the value is and settle for what that is. But because of the tag rules and the team's use of the tag, that just hasn't taken place. ... So until that system of the tag is removed from the equation or from the collective bargaining agreement altogether, that will frame the entirety of my agent's approach."

In each of the past two offseasons, the Redskins have not offered Cousins a contract equal to his tag number. Last offseason, their best offer was for $16 million per year with $24 million guaranteed. He instead made $19.95 million on the tag.

The contract impasse is why the trade speculation exists. His preferred destination in such talk has been San Francisco because of his relationship with new coach Kyle Shanahan. But the Redskins have said they won't trade Cousins.

If the Redskins don't trade him and let him hit the market next year, they stand to receive a third-round compensatory pick in 2019. Therefore, they might eventually view it in their best interest to try to recoup more.

"In this league, things change so fast and players can get blindsided all the time with decisions," Cousins said. "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 never know what will happen.

"I'll always keep an open mind so I won't get blindsided, but from what I heard in conversations, I felt very much supported and felt the owner and president of the team want me to be the quarterback there and to be the quarterback there for a long time."

Cousins said he is not taking it for granted that the Redskins will let him be an unrestricted free agent next offseason, despite the high cost of the franchise tag and the risk of the transition tag. On the latter, if the Redskins failed to match another offer, they would receive no compensation. With the franchise tag, they could receive compensation via trade, but it's also a risk because of the salary-cap space it would use.

"If a team has franchise tagged me two years in a row, it's because they expect me to play at a high level," Cousins said. "If we play at a very high level and if we win a Super Bowl next year, I'm pretty confident they'll tag me and bring me back. If the season goes the way everyone wants it to and hopes it will, then let's hope I'm getting tagged again. There's still more of this story to write."

Over the past two years, Cousins has thrown for a combined 9,083 yards, 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. But he also just lost two of his top targets: Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.

The Redskins have signed wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. to pair with tight end Jordan Reed and wide receiver Jamison Crowder. Pryor said the receivers will be getting together soon with Cousins to work out.

"I want to play with a guy like Terrelle Pryor," Cousins said. "That's a great acquisition, a player that will help us a lot on offense. I'm excited about the players we have on offense. The line has played well for a couple years. We have some good players up and coming. ... I'm excited about what's in place."