Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is confident that Kirk Cousins will remain in Washington for years to come despite the team placing the franchise tag on him once again.
The Washington Redskins elected to place the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins for a second straight year on Tuesday. While the move likely means that the 2012 fourth-round pick will be around for the 2017 season, applying the exclusive franchise tag on the team's starting quarterback of the last two years allows autonomy to work on a long-term deal.
"Well, we'd like to keep Kirk here obviously, and we think he's going to be our quarterback for a long time," Gruden told local reporters at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "And to have that opportunity to negotiate with him and get a long-term deal is what we want to do. Let's move forward, and tag him and try to get a deal done and go from there."
Unlike the non-exclusive franchise tag which the Redskins used on Cousins last season, the exclusive tag means none of the other 31 NFL teams can try and negotiate with him.
Cousins can sign his tender at any time until July 15 and the Redskins have until that date to sit down with the quarterback's representatives to hammer out a long-term deal that both sides can agree upon.
"Both parties have to come up with something," Gruden said. "We can offer him the world, and if he doesn't want to sign it, he doesn't have to sign it and we have to do, maybe, a better job. I think it'll happen, I really do. We'll wait and see. I'm going to coach the players that are here, and I fully anticipate Kirk being the quarterback."
Cousins, of course, took over as the team's full-time starting quarterback for the regular season opener in 2015 and has been one of the most productive players at the position during this two-year span.
In 32 regular season games, Cousins has passed for more than 9,000 yards while leading the Redskins to back-to-back winning seasons. He also shed the interception-prone label that hovered over him early in his career, as the 2016 Pro Bowler has thrown for 54 touchdowns to just 23 interceptions on 1,149 pass attempts.
Additionally, Cousins is the only offensive player in franchise history to earn multiple NFC Player of the Month honors.
Last season, Cousins completed 406-of-606 passes (67.0 percent) for 4,917 yards with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a passer rating of 97.2. He finished the year with single-season team records in attempts, completions and passing yards and matched his team record for 300-yard passing games (seven).
Having Cousins in place for the Redskins not only in 2017 but beyond would help Washington in building off recent success.
"We know how important that position is in pro football, and to have a guy here that's been developing in the system for the last two years, we take very seriously," Gruden said. "We see his progress, we see the progress that he's going to make and we're excited about that. We'd love to have a long-term deal done obviously, and hopefully that will happen here in the near future, but we do like where he's going with his game and we feel good about having him here as a Redskin for a long time."