Redskins team President Bruce Allen said he's confident that the team will find a way to keep quarterback Kirk Cousins on the roster in 2016 — and possibly beyond.
The interest on both sides is certainly there. Now it's time to figure out a way to make it happen.
With the clock ticking on various deadlines to keep free-agent-to-be Kirk Cousins on the Washington Redskins' roster, the team remains confident that the record-breaking quarterback will be back under center in 2016 — and possibly beyond.
Cousins, whose rookie contract has expired, is set to become an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. ET on March 9, meaning he could negotiate — and sign — with any team at that point.
But the Redskins have two options before free agency begins on March 9 to ensure Cousins remains in Washington: sign him to a multi-year contract or use their franchise tag on Cousins, essentially giving him a one-year, fully-guaranteed contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the quarterback position.
The franchise tag signing period begins on Tuesday and ends on March 1 at 4 p.m. ET.
"Well we feel comfortable with it because Kirk has said he wants to be a Washington Redskin, and we've told him we want him to be our starting quarterback," Redskins team President Bruce Allen said Saturday. "So we have some time, and those things usually work out, and I think his future is bright."
Cousins seemingly improved with each start throughout the 2015 season, and really took off for a majority of the second half, when all of the team's weapons — namely wide receiver DeSean Jackson and tight end Jordan Reed — were healthy.
The 2015 Pro Football Writers of America's NFL Co-Most Improved Player award recipient, Cousins would set team records in passing yards (4,166), attempts (543), completions (379) and 300-yard passing games (seven). Cousins moved the ball through the air efficiently, completing 69.8 percent of passes for the second-highest completion percentage in Redskins history (eighth-best in NFL history) and recording the third-highest passer rating in franchise history (101.6).
In the process, the Michigan State product helped lead the Redskins to the NFC East Division title.
Cousins said he decided to focus on the regular season, and not his expiring contract, throughout 2015 season — a strategy that "served us well," according to the quarterback. At the end of the season, he told ESPN980's Larry Michael and Sonny Jurgensen that "it'll be interesting to see where we're at" as his representatives and the team meet over the next couple months to possibly try to work out a long-term deal.
"I'm hoping for an opportunity to be the guy here for a long time and hopefully build on this season," Cousins said.
On the possibility of giving Cousins the franchise tag, Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan told reporters Jan. 27 that it's always "an option," but "you'd rather not" in this scenario.
"You'd rather get a long-term deal done, but we have a lot of options we're dealing with right now, and that's one of them," the second-year GM said.
Regardless of which road the Redskins potentially choose to go down — either by signing him to a long-term team or giving him the franchise tag — the team has made it clear they think Cousins is their leader for 2016.
"He got better each week in the season and that's what you want in a young quarterback," Allen said. "I think he has a chance to lead us into the future."