Richmond, Virginia — Kirk Cousins‘ past will help guide him, once again, during a season in which his long-term status remains uncertain.
The Washington Redskins quarterback said that’s not just because he played on a one-year deal last season, but because most of his career has had the same feel: a player always having to prove himself.
“The lesson I learned was the same lesson I learned as a senior in high school when I played my high school senior year with zero scholarship offers,” Cousins said, “and the same thing I learned my senior year of college when I played with wondering if I could go to the NFL.
“If you win football games, everything else takes care of itself and that’s a beautiful thing. If you do that there is going to be plenty of opportunities down the road. So my focus never really has to change from that standpoint.”
Cousins is one of 12 key starters or backups playing on a one-year deal. But none have garnered headlines like Cousins’s situation. The Redskins used the franchise tag on him for a second season and failed to reach a long-term deal by the July 17 deadline. His future remains murky in Washington, but the same was true last season. He still threw for 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as Washington finished 8-7-1.
Teammates aren’t concerning themselves with his situation — corner Josh Norman made a “zero” sign with his fist when asked how much he worries about another player’s contract status. And Cousins said he’s not focused on it either.
“I feel good. I’m ready to go,” Cousins said. “I’ve been feeling good the last several weeks, and we’ve done a good job communicating between myself and the team. We’re all on the same page. We’re all in a good place right now. We’ve got enough to worry about trying to get our offense playing at the level it’s going to need to have a great season so that I can be back in future years.”
The common refrain is that Cousins is betting on himself. But Cousins said it’s not about betting on himself but rather the system: if he works hard and wins, he’ll be rewarded. It also helps that he’ll make $24 million this season.
” As I’ve said many times my wife and I love it here and we’re in a good place,” Cousins said. ” I’m living the dream being a starting quarterback in the NFL. I’ve got my hands full this season with 16 games. I talk about how in the offseason the ball is in the team’s court, as it is, but from Week 1 to Week 17, the ball’s in my court and I’ve got to go play football well, so that’s where my focus is.”
And it’s a focus he’s grown accustomed to having.
“Every year you never had it mapped out,” Cousins said. “So to be in that role now may feel different, but it really doesn’t to me because that’s been my story all along, and I’ve just learned that’s the way life is. Maybe that’s the way the Lord wants it to be for me, and I’m OK with that. It’s a healthy place for me to be. It’s worked in the past and hopefully it can work going forward.”