Now that the smoke has cleared and Kirk Cousins has signed his exclusive rights franchise tender to remain in Washington for the 2017 season, both sides appear to be content to let the trade rumors fade away.
Appearing on ESPN’s Know Them From Adam podcast Tuesday, Cousins refuted reports that he recently requested a trade from Redskins owner Dan Snyder.
“I did inquire if there was any interest in trading me to get an understanding of their perspective,” Cousins explained. “The answer I got back was Mr. Snyder communicated his belief in me and desire for me to remain a Redskin.”
While Cousins’ explanation leaves room for semantical gymnastics, Mike Jones of the Washington Post wrote Tuesday that he has been unable to find a single source to confirm a trade demand by the quarterback.
If that’s the case, it’s natural to wonder if the ostensibly strained relationship might be repairable after all.
After speaking with Snyder and Redskins president Bruce Allen, Cousins was reassured of his standing with the organization’s braintrust.
“I felt very much supported,” Cousins continued, “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.”
The 2016 Pro Bowler’s rare leverage via the mechanism of back-to-back franchise tags leaves his long-term future up in the air. It would cost the Redskins a seemingly prohibitive $34.5 million to apply the franchise tag a third time, leaving the riskier $28 million transition tag in play next offseason.
Cousins’ camp understandably insists on negotiating from the starting point of his $23.94 million salary for 2017. To this point, though, the team’s best offer was $20 million annually with “low guarantees,” ESPN.com’s John Keim reported.
If the sides can’t find common ground in the next month, would the Redskins simply draft his replacement and allow him to walk as an unrestricted free agent in 2018? Cousins isn’t banking on gaining his freedom next offseason.
“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.”
Barring a new contract to beat the July 15 deadline for players assigned the franchise designation, it’s a story we’ll continue to write throughout the the 2017 season.