Officially under the franchise tag for the 2016 season, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins isn't concerned about the future. He's all about being a leader for the defending NFC East champs right now.
After all of the offseason talk about Kirk Cousins' future with the Washington Redskins, the fifth-year quarterback is just excited to get back to work. Whatever comes down the road will happen then. Right now, it's about being a leader during the 2016 season.
"I'm not lying awake at night," Cousins said on Thursday. "I'm good, I feel comfortable. I got a pretty good raise this year. Last year I [was] looking at a one-year deal making a lot less than I am making this year, so I feel fine. I'm good. I understand the risks – we all understand the risks – and we're here and we're ready to go to work. So you're not going to hear any complaints from me."
Indeed, Cousins hasn't complained about his current situation. In fact, he was one of the first franchise tagged players to sign their tenders during the offseason. Then he was at the Inova Sports Performance Center At Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., for all of OTAs and minicamp.
"I was given a great opportunity last season – it's not just like I took it," Cousins said. "I had a great opportunity; I was put in a spot to succeed with great coaches and great teammates. Fortunately we had a great year, but I think the franchise tag says a lot. They didn't have to tag me. No one forced them to do that; they chose to do that of their own accord. In this league it's one year at a time – whether you're on a long-term deal, one-year deal or two-year deal."
When the Redskins were in training camp last year, it was thought that Cousins' only option was to battle for second-team quarterback reps with Colt McCoy.
But after a strong showing in Richmond, followed only by better performances throughout the preseason, Cousins jumped Robert Griffin III on the quarterback depth chart.
His season was a tale of two different experiences, though. Early on, Cousins struggled to get into a flow, throwing six touchdowns to eight interceptions in the first six games of the season.
The issue intensified during the first half of the Redskins' Week 7 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as Washington fell into a 24-0 hole. Cousins, for his part, couldn't get the offense moving.
The Washington Redskins conducted their first day of training camp walkthrough practices Thursday, July 28, 2016, at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
But over the final 40 minutes of the game, the Michigan State product was able to get the Redskins back on track, leading the team to a comeback 31-30 victory. It was the largest comeback in franchise history and the start of a stellar second half of the season.
Cousins would throw 20 touchdowns to just three interceptions from Week 9 through 16, leading the Redskins to an NFC East title.
Now he's back to show that he's steadily growing as a player.
"I don't know that there were all these areas where I was deficient last year and I don't know that there were all these areas where I just feel like I've arrived," Cousins said. "I think it's just constantly trying to go back each and every day after walkthroughs, after practice, watch the film, listen to your coaches, be critical of yourself and say, 'How can I be better and how can I more consistently help this offense move the football and score points?'"
If the Redskins can replicate the success experienced in 2015, they're in store for a "strong season."
"We're always looking to get better and improve upon what we've done," Cousins said. "That'll be the focus as long as I'm here."