Standig room only: Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins on playing under the franchise tag: 'I really have no issue with it'

Kirk Cousins is adept at reading defenses -- and giving political answers about his contract negotiations.

Often whenever Kirk Cousins does an interview, I think back to one of my tweets about the Washington Redskins quarterback during his second season. Whenever his playing days are over, there's no doubt Cousins can make it as a politician if he so chooses. There's a gift some speakers have where they nicely say nothing and forcefully say something at the same time. To my ears, that happened again Friday as I listened to Cousins on 106.7 The Fan's "Grant and Danny" show discuss his contract status with the Redskins. 

With Cousins entering free agency this offseason, the Redskins placed the franchise tag on the QB, ensuring his 2016 salary would be just shy of $20 million for one season of work. As we know from the Josh Norman journey, placing the tag on a player doesn't force said player into signing the deal. Cousins did and did so quickly. While that ensured he's locked into a contract for one season, the long-term situation remains unsettled. Both sides have until July 15 to hammer out a longer contract or the idea that Cousins could be a one-and-done becomes a major topic all season.

Yet whenever Cousins is asked about the contract, he sincerely comes across as someone rather content with the terms. $20 million is life-changing money, no doubt. So is $37 million, the amount of guaranteed money Houston paid free agent Brock Osweiler this offseason. Based on last season, Cousins is far more accomplished, meaning the guarantee dollars would be larger. 

"There really is no new news. Pretty much the same story," Cousins told the radio hosts when they asked the obligatory contract update question. 

He could have put a bow on the non-answer there and moved on. Instead Cousins added a bit more.

"As we've said before, the reason I signed the franchise tag as quickly as I did was because I felt it to be a great opportunity for me, a good contract. I really have no issue with it. In order to sign an additional contract beyond that, it would need to be a deal that puts me in a great opportunity, a great spot because already the franchise tag does that. I'm very content and ready to go play. What's important is the coming season, the 2016 season. Fortunately I'm under contract with the Skins. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It's a great opportunity to get the job done," he concluded.

The sentence in italics is interesting. Ultimately the meaning could be nothing more than words forming a sentence. Or not

In order to sign an additional contract beyond that, it would need to be a deal that puts me in a great opportunity, a great spot because already the franchise tag does that.

My attempt at parsing language has me believing Cousins isn't looking at taking any kind of discount after:

  • Leading the Redskins to an NFC East title
  • Leading the NFL in completion percentage
  • Having essentially no chance to do either of those things during his first three seasons while serving as a backup

The $20 million coming his way already changes plenty for a guy who was driving a 15-year-old conversion van to work last season. Cousins believes in his ability and the skyrocketing rate for quarterbacks isn't leveling off anytime soon. What is drying up is the number of viable starting passers league-wide.

July 15 is six weeks away. These types of negotiations often don't get cracking until the deadline truly puts pressure on those involved. Both sides have good reasons to get a deal done. Washington doesn't want to head back into the QB-less desert and Cousins could risk his financial upside with a down season. 

This won't be the last time Cousins gets the contract question. We'll be listening closely at the future answers.

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