- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 31, 2017

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins will wait until Friday to address his future.

After the Redskins’ 18-10 loss Sunday to the New York Giants, Cousins said he needed to “catch [his] breath” before thinking about the long-term. As has been the case for the two previous seasons, Cousins will enter the offseason without a contract.

Cousins will hold a two-hour charity event at Jammin Java” in Fairfax next Friday, where he’ll discuss his future with 106.7 The Fan.

“We’ll have plenty of time [to mull things over],” Cousins said. “The league is set up in a way that we will have a lot of time to make those decisions. I’ll use all the time that I can. I want to be very thorough and diligent.”

Cousins has repeatedly given similar answers over the last few years and Sunday’s post-game press conference was no different.

The Redskins, though, are facing a far more consequential situation this offseason — applying the franchise tag for a third straight year would cost $34.4 million.

Last year, Cousins chose not to counter the Redskins’ long-term deal offer, saying instead he wanted to play on a one-year contract, given the franchise’s state of flux. In July, Cousins said he wanted to see how the 2017 season panned out and where the Redskins were headed.

This season, the Redskins went 7-9 in a season filled with injuries. They struggled with consistency, never winning more than two games in a row. As of Dec. 20, Washington had the fourth-most games missed because of injury.

Despite the injuries to the playmakers and offensive lineman around him, Cousins finished with 4,093 passing yards for 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

He became the 11th quarterback Sunday in NFL history to finish with three straight seasons with more than 4,000 yards passing.

Cousins‘ 13 interceptions, however, were a career-high.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden acknowledged “without a doubt” the Redskins’ future with Cousins will need to be figured out before they can move on as a franchise.

“We have to have stability at that position somehow, someway,” Gruden said. “Not everybody has it. That’s just the way it is in pro football nowadays. If you’ve got one, you would like to keep one, but you want to make that decision pretty soon or Kirk will also, so it’s not totally up to us, you know?”

The Redskins can keep Cousins by either applying the franchise tag (one-year, $34.4 million), the transition tag (one-year, $28 million with the rights to match any other deal offered) or by successfully negotiating a long-term contract.

Washington could also let Cousins hit the market, which there figure to be plenty of suitors for the quarterback’s services. Arizona, Jacksonville, Denver and Cleveland are among teams with instability at the QB position.

Cousins‘ teammates will also be keeping a close eye on what unfolds. 

“Of course we want Kirk here,” tight end Vernon Davis said. “We think he’s one of the best guys in the locker room. He’s a great leader and everything you want in a quarterback. … Unfortunately, we don’t have any say so.”

Added safety D.J. Swearinger: “He’s an elite quarterback in this league and he’s our elite quarterback. Hopefully we can get him back, but the business is the business.”

Cousins said he didn’t allow himself to be distracted by his contract situation, pointing to his past experience in dealing with uncertainty. If he stays with the Redskins, Cousins said there will be areas to build on.

Cousins called the injuries this season “silver linings” because it forced younger players to become more experienced, which would create greater depth.

“We just have to continue to develop young players,” Cousins said. “We’ve got to have young players come along to a level where they go from being good contributors to Pro Bowl type players and I think that can really be the difference for us.

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