When the Redskins didn't come to an agreement on a long-term contract by the 4 p.m. Friday deadline with Trent Williams, they resigned themselves to letting him play under the franchise tag for the 2016 season.
This has brought out strong opinions on both sides of the issue, the future implications of which won't be determined until the end of the season, one which the team hopes will come later into January, and, ideally, into February.
That's at least the way defensive end Ricky Jean Francois feels about his team's chances with Cousins under center. He joined Mike Florio on Monday on PFT Live and said as much.
"You got to believe the man with the ball and I believe in Kirk Cousins," he said. "I have seen it with my own eyes what this guy can do especially what he has in the talent around him. Everybody in the locker room is behind Kirk and you're a fool if you're not. The man bet on himself. The man is that confident enough to know he can lead one of the best teams in the NFL to another division, to a playoff and even to Houston in February. He has that ability and he trusts himself enough to know he can lead the Washington Redskins to another division and another playoff appearance and make a deeper run into it."
Florio asked Jean Francois about whether Cousins not receiving a long-term deal sends a message to the team about his worth. The defensive leader didn't think that has any effect on how players view their quarterback.
"I understand everybody talking about the big contract as a distraction, but it's not a distraction to this guy. The man's franchise tag $19.5 [million]? I don't see any distraction in that," he said. "I understand they want security. I understand they want the big bucks and all but like Kirk Cousins said, he's betting on himself and that's the best person to bet on. He knows he can go out there and put up better numbers than he had last year. He did a great job for us last year. Kirk knows he can do a better job than he did last year. The sky's the limit for this kid.
Check out behind the scenes images from Defensive End, Ricky Jean Francois's 2016 Redskins Photo Shoot.
Jean Francois listed the various offensive weapons Cousins has at his disposal – the well-regarded wide receivers group, his healthy crop of tight ends, Trent Williams guarding his blind side – and knows that as long as he performs at a level anywhere higher than last season, good things will be afforded to him.
"There's nothing this kid can't do and I understand with the schedule he has," Jean Francois said, "but if Kirk Cousins wants the money he's looking for, this is the schedule to accomplish it."
And yeah, that schedule. Jean Francois has heard your opinions about it. He doesn't care for them.
"I understand that it is a difficult schedule, but it hasn't been played yet and no one has put pads on yet," he said. "Nobody has watched any team yet. I understand everyone's prediction is their own prediction, but our prediction is something greater and something bigger."