While it doesn't mean there will be a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline, there has been an improved, encouraging tone in the contract talks between the Washington Redskins and quarterback Kirk Cousins, league sources told ESPN.
One reason for the positive outlook is that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has gotten involved, making it known how much Washington wants to re-sign Cousins.
At last month's owners meetings in Chicago, Redskins president Bruce Allen and Cousins' agent, Mike McCartney, had their first face-to-face meeting in the two years since Washington first used the franchise tag on the starting quarterback, sources said. It was the first of two face-to-face meetings between the two sides, as they continue to negotiate a long-term deal.
Now there is a belief that even if a deal doesn't get completed before the NFL deadline for franchise players next month -- and it still will be challenging, even with the thawing between the two sides -- that one could be struck after next season, keeping Cousins in Washington long term.
"There's no doubt it's been more positive lately," said one source familiar with the talks who requested anonymity. "Everything has been much more positive in the past several months."
It is why there is more hope that something could get done. Last offseason, the two sides never came close to a deal. This offseason, the Redskins appear more open to recognizing Cousins' value, especially when he is scheduled to play the 2017 season on a franchise tag worth about $24 million.
Playing on back-to-back franchise tags gives Cousins leverage in talks for a long-term deal, and the Redskins seem open to getting a deal done.