During a subsequent interview on NFL Network’s “Super Bowl Live” program, Cousins said the Redskins reached out and “just kind of explained what had happened” on Wednesday.
“I don’t take it personal,” Cousins said when asked what he thought about the team not contacting him until the next day. “It’s a business. I just don’t get my hopes up. I don’t expect too much from people in the league because you just never know what could happen.”
Later, Cousins told ESPN that the Redskins decided they couldn’t wait until the March 6 deadline to apply the franchise tag on him for an unprecedented third consecutive year, which would have resulted in a one-year deal worth close to $34.5 million. Cousins had made it clear that he and his agent, Mike McCartney, wouldn’t engage in any contract talks until the franchise tag deadline passed.
“Coach [Jay] Gruden called me [on Wednesday] and just communicated that my desire to draw the process out through March was going to make it tough on them,” Cousins said. “They couldn’t afford to wait, and so they had to make a move. I understood that. They wanted to do a deal, but because I wanted to go a little longer, it put them in a tough spot. … [Gruden] said, ‘I wish you all the best and we had a good run and look forward to seeing you in the future.’”
Cousins, meanwhile, will be the most-coveted free agent quarterback this offseason.
“We’ll see where it leads,” he told USA Today of his uncertain future. “ . . . Hopefully [number] one, teams pursue you and you’ll find the right fit.”
Before Tuesday’s news, Cousins said he felt “there was a good chance” he would remain in Washington for the 2018 season.
“I was keeping an open mind,” Cousins told Jones. ” . . . I think Washington can win. I think they’re in a good place. Whether it was going to be me or Alex Smith or somebody else, I think they’re in a position to be successful.”
“In this league and my story, I’ve learned that curveballs come all the time,” Cousins told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I expect to be a free agent come March 14. We’ll see if that plays out, and if it does, it’s a unique opportunity that I look forward to. I haven’t had a chance to pick where I wanted to play since 2007 when I chose to go to Michigan State.”
Cousins was in complete shutdown mode while en route from the third floor of the Mall of America to his first-floor interview with Sirius XM. An assortment of handlers — including Cousins’s publicist, who repeatedly said the quarterback was only doing paid interviews during Super Bowl week — whisked Cousins past the tightly arranged interview tables, the crush of radio disc jockeys and celebrities and through the overflowing crowd trying to take pictures. Aside from stopping to give a passionate high-five to former ESPN broadcaster John Clayton, Cousins quickly scurried through the sea of fans flocking the food court and through a side door marked “authorized personnel only.”
In a twist of fate or perhaps comical Redskins’ irony, Cousins’ former teammate, Robert Griffin III, was conducting interviews next to the Sirius set. Griffin, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner and second-overall pick of the Redskins in 2012, is still holding out hope that he’ll get another chance to quarterback in the NFL after stints in Washington and Cleveland were cut short due to injury.
Flanked by his new agent and his wife and baby, Griffin said he’s “willing to play wherever” and still has faith he’ll be a starter again.
The Redskins, meanwhile, will send a third-round pick in this year’s NFL draft and cornerback Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs for Smith. The 33-year-old former No. 1 draft pick is viewed as a cheaper, but older, version of Cousins, who was drafted by the Redskins in 2012, named the starter in 2015 and played the last two seasons on the one-year franchise tag.
“The team’s gotta do what’s best for them,” Cousins told TMZ Sports on Thursday at the EA Sports Madden Bowl. “I had a phenomenal six seasons in Washington and really can’t say enough good things about my experience there. It’s tough to move on from teammates, from everyone involved in the organization, from coaches and teammates, to the chaplain, to even friends in the community, our neighbors.”
On Friday, Cousins mentioned a few teammates by name.
“I texted Chris Thompson a couple days ago and said, ‘You’re one of the toughest teammates to move on from,'” Cousins told USA Today. “I could go on. Morgan Moses, Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, Brandon Scherff, Spencer Long, on and on. Guys that I just loved playing with and think so highly of. It’s hard to move on.”
During his interviews on Radio Row before Tuesday’s trade, Cousins repeated much of what he said at his end-of-season event with 106.7 The Fan last month about winning being more important than money when it comes to where he’s playing in 2018, and the ball being in the Redskins’ court.
“There’s no need to change the script,” Cousins told NBC Sports Radio’s Mike Florio and Chris Simms on Monday. “Stay consistent with the plan. … We’ll see what the Redskins want to do and then I’ll react accordingly.”
The Redskins revealed what they wanted to do the next day by trading for Smith. Cousins, who is expected to become a free agent when the new league year begins on March 14, should have no shortage of suitors. Broncos linebacker Von Miller is among the players who has talked openly about how Cousins would improve his team this week.
“It’s flattering to hear a player of Von’s caliber speak highly of me,” Cousins told TMZ. “It’s always nice to be wanted. I would enjoy gathering the information and talking with him and learning more about Denver along with the other teams that are out there.”
This post has been updated.
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