- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2016


With the end of the Washington Redskins’ mandatory minicamp this week, the final countdown to the July 15 deadline to sign Mr. “You Like That?” to a long-term contract begins.

I suspect that deadline will come and go, and that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins will open training camp in Richmond late next month with no commitment from his team other than the franchise tag that will pay him nearly $20 million this year.

I think Cousins likes that just fine.

The Redskins? There’s not much to like about that.

When asked about the approaching deadline to either sign a long-term contract or play out the season under the franchise tag, Cousins answered as if he was being asked when his phone contract expires.

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“I don’t know all the rules but my understanding is I wouldn’t be allowed to [negotiate a long-term contract],” Cousins said. “So, after July 15, I don’t even know when I would then be allowed to again. So, I’m not even that well-educated on it, which goes to show how much I’m asking the agent to handle it all. That’s my understanding is July 15, let’s just go play football and we’ll see you on the other side.”

I don’t know. Really?

You really think Cousins isn’t aware of the details and implications of playing without a contract beyond this season?

Not only do I believe he is aware of it — he is looking forward to it.

“Let’s just go play football and we’ll see you on the other side.”

In other words, “I’ll play this season and then we’ll really see how much more it is going to cost you when we go through this dance again next year.”

You can see the confidence and swagger in Cousins as he runs the Redskins as the starting quarterback this offseason. Heck, coach Jay Gruden basically implied that he would like to see Cousins dial it back a bit.

Gruden was asked on Tuesday about the trash-talking on the field during camp. “It’s all fun and games out here,” he said. “When the game starts, we have to eliminate all that stuff but it doesn’t happen very often — just a few select guys. Kirk kind of eggs it on a little bit when he gets excited. I think he just gets so fired up sometimes when he makes a good play and some [on] defense take offense to that because they gave up a big play.”

Of all the players on the roster, who would think that the one the coach singled out for having a big mouth in practice would be Cousins?

It is an indication of the confidence level that Cousins has right now. He can’t wait to start the season under the franchise tag, and he’s been waiting four years chafing under the RGIII cloud to strut his stuff.

The Redskins may meet Cousins’ price tag for a long-term deal before the deadline — whatever that may be. But, if they are waiting for Cousins to succumb to any doubts about his gamble on himself, they will be watching the clock strike midnight on July 15 with the prospect of having to pay Cousins a lot more money after that — if he is the future of at quarterback. Right now, there are no other options in that future.

There has been much made of Cousins’ “You like that!” mantra from last year — the comments he made leaving the field that were caught on television after leading the Redskins’ comeback victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that turned the season around. There have been suggestions that it may be time to retire that slogan, that it has run its course.

Another mantra that Cousins recently said during an appearance on 106.7 The Fan after throwing 29 touchdowns and a franchise-record 4,166 yards in 16 games last year while leading Washington to a 9-7 NFL East division title: “I want to be where I’m wanted, and we’ll find out where I’m wanted in a few months.”

He’s not forgetting that one. It will be his rallying cry this season.

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

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