Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden are still together, for now. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
Editor/columnist

There have been suggestions in recent months that the Redskins were hurt in their Kirk Cousins negotiations by the sense that the team and its leaders were not sufficiently sold on Cousins. That he wanted to feel wanted. That the quarterback needed to feel some love.

They’re not telling him, truly, we love you,” ESPN 980’s Chris Cooley worried earlier this offseason. “Where’d Josh Norman go when he first came here? Where does any player that Dan [Snyder] loves go? To his house. Show him you love him. Give him the Josh Norman treatment. That’s what you’re gonna have to do.”

With a month to go before the deadline to reach an extension, maybe it’s too late to matter. But last week, team executives veritably doused Cousins with their love. They slathered their love all over him. They held a contest to see who loved Cousins more, but then they all won, because it’s impossible to love someone more than infinity.

Do the Redskins want Kirk Cousins as their quarterback?

“In the worst way,” Doug Williams, the new senior vice president of player personnel, said on NFL Network. “I mean, let’s face this thing: the last two years Kirk Cousins had tremendous years. And one thing [in] this league hard to find is that guy to run the football team, and Kirk does a tremendous job doing that. And with the weapons that he has and offensive line that he has — and I think our defense is a little better than where we were last year — quite naturally you want Kirk Cousins at quarterback.”

It wasn’t just Williams, either.

“I can assure you, financially, we’ve expressed our love — in addition to all of the other things — and treated Kirk hopefully the right way,” new senior VP of Football Operations Eric Schaffer said last week on 106.7 The Fan’s “Grant and Danny.”

Want more love?

I think without question Kirk is who the Redskins want,” Schaffer said, his version of a Danny Zuko dance number. “We’ve expressed it every way we possibly can: that we would like him to be our quarterback for the long term. What I really admire personally is the grit and determination. I mean, coming in the way he came in, as a fourth-round pick: never complained, worked his way up, did all the things that we asked of him, and really is a class act and a leader. So all of those things are right.”

Later, Schaffer went back to 2015, arguing that Coach Jay Gruden stood strong for Cousins, despite his early struggles.

“Jay was resolute that Kirk Cousins is my guy, and he stuck with him, and it really bore fruit as we went on,” Schaffer said. “And I think everybody in the organization has that great support for Kirk.”

The Redskins want Cousins “in the worst way” and have “expressed it every way we possibly can.” That is love. Thick, goopy love.

Both new executives also argued that the Redskins should be an attractive long-term home for Cousins. They are selling him on this job through the media, in other words. Which sort of acknowledges the sometimes unacknowledged point here: one side has all the leverage, and it isn’t the team.

For example, does Williams have confidence that a deal gets done?

“I do, for one reason,” he told ESPN 980’s Kevin Sheehan. “And that is if I’m a quarterback, and I’m on that field, and I see what I’ve got to work with, I think about my opportunity. I think about my chances. This is a team that I’d like to be the quarterback of.”

“All I can do is hope and pray that Kirk looks at the big picture and looks at this football team and realizes we do have a pretty solid football team, solid offensive line,” Williams said on NFL Network. “He’s got something to work with.”

One of the team’s top execs now admits to hoping and praying that Cousins recognizes his opportunity with the Redskins. And Schaffer agreed.

“At the end of the day, we could do everything possible — in order to tell Kirk we think he’s got one of the best offensive lines, Washington is a great place to live, we’ve great weapons, we’ve got an owner who will do all he can to make sure the players and team are taken care of,” Schaffer said on 106.7 The Fan. “But at the end of the day, Kirk and his agent are certainly well within their right to say you know, we appreciate it, we know it’s a big financial offer on the franchise tag, and we’re just going to stick with that.”

Schaffer said negotiations will continue, and that team execs “hope that there’s a resolution that Kirk can really feel good about, and that we can live with, and keep building the team around him. I think that that’s what’s important for the longevity of Kirk’s career and the longevity of success for the Redskins.”

So the team is searching for a deal Cousins can really feel good about, and one that the team can “live with.” That’s sacrifice. And that’s what you do, when you’re dealing with someone you love.

“We want to have a winner, a consistent winner in Washington for as long as we possibly can,” Schaffer said. “And so we have to approach the situation with Kirk like we do with all of our players that we love and want to keep.”