Based on how deftly he deflected contract questions on Day 1 of training camp, Kirk Cousins could consider becoming a hockey goaltender if the quarterback thing doesn't work out,
Cousins held his first training camp presser as the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback Thursday shortly after the team's morning walkthrough. The fifth-year veteran skated by potential tricky questions on that long-term contract he and the organization didn't agree on by the July 15 deadline. Instead, he will head into this season on the franchise tag with a mutual understanding that there's still much to prove.
"I think the franchise tag says a lot -- they didn't have to tag me; they chose to do that on their own," Cousins said.
The tag meant a jump in salary from $660,000 to just under $20 million for the 2016 season. That's good work if you can get it.
"I'm not lying awake at night -- I'm fine; I'm comfortable," Cousins said. "I got a pretty good raise this year. I understand the risks -- we all understand the risks. So you're not going to hear any complaints from me."
While the Redskins believe Cousins could be their long-term solution at QB, the organization wants to see more, it would appear. What about coach Jay Gruden?
"He doesn't have to do a lot to get me," Gruden said Thursday.
The coach backed the quarterback last season at a point when the team belonged to Robert Griffin III. Good call. Cousins rewrote the franchise record book and led the Redskins to the NFC East title.
"He just has to show continued progress. At the quarterback position, it's about consistency. ...There have been a lot of quarterbacks in the history of the league that had solid one-year seasons. It's about having two, three, four years. Luckily we're in a position to look at him another year.
As Cousins mentioned, there are risks for both parties involved with having your starting QB on a one-year deal.
But Cousins isn't looking too far ahead and understands that nothing is guaranteed in the NFL anyway. "I think in this league it's one year at a time," he said. "I had a four-year deal as a rookie and it didn't feel like one, it felt like an everyday deal. So I don't think that's changed much."
Cousins received a great opportunity last season by being named the starting QB late in pre-season. Although it was unconventional, it gave him a chance to play a full season for the first time in his professional career. "I was given a great opportunity last season -- it's not like I just took it; I had a great opportunity, he said."
Now as the defending NFC East champs and a 9-7 season that led to a playoff berth, expectations have escalated for the Washington Redskins. However, Cousins did a good job attempting to downplay the expectations by acknowledging that there's work still to be done. "What happened last year helps me have confidence going forward," said Cousins. "Hopefully it translates into a great offense and a lot of production. But right now it's all talk until you go out there and prove it."
Washington will be looking for just that.
"He's in a position to really put a stamp on himself in the National Football League," Gruden said of Cousins. "It's a win-win situation. We want to keep Kirk. There's no doubt about it. He wants to prove himself. Hats off to him. We'll get something done. We fully anticipate him improving in a big way this year."
The contract situation, while unique, will handle itself when the time comes. Until then, don't expect to hear any complaints from the man under center.
Breaking Burgundy publisher Ben Standig contributed from Richmond.
You can find Emmanuel on Twitter @manny_benton.
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