Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins will soon wrap up another season on an expiring contract. He became Washington’s full-time starter in 2015 on the final year of his rookie deal and has since received the franchise tag in consecutive years.

Cousins, 29, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent once again, unless Washington decides to slap the franchise tag for a third consecutive offseason or agree to a long-term deal with their three-year starter. One of the arguments against signing Cousins on a long-term deal has been his age, however. He will turn 30 before the start of the 2018 season, which has often been a milestone when most players aren’t exactly considered to be a “franchise” piece. A team could build around the quarterback currently in his prime, but it could be in the market for another franchise quarterback at the end of a five-year deal depending on Cousins’s play and durability in his mid 30s.

When asked Sunday about how long he believes he can play, Cousins said he just hopes he can walk away from football “on my terms.”

“I’ve always felt like my dream would be to be able to walk away from the game on my terms, rather than to say, ‘Oh, my body couldn’t do it anymore and the team cut me because I wasn’t good enough,’” Cousins said. “It’s a dream of mine to be able to leave this game on my terms where I could still do it, but I say, ‘No, I’m good.’

“I would just hate to be told that I can no longer play if I want to. I think the ability to have that freedom and say, ‘It’s my choice, and the ball is in my court,’ I think that’s the dream. You never want to be told you can’t do something that you wanna do. As long as I want to be here, I hope that I can give myself that chance. But most guys … very, very few – 1 percent of 1 percent – get to leave the game on their terms.”

Cousins didn’t give an exact age, but there’s been a growing number of quarterbacks in recent years playing well beyond their 30s. There were seven quarterbacks that started in Week 12 at age 35 or older. That list includes Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who at 40 years old has thrown 26 touchdown passes this season – the most by a quarterback after turning 40 in NFL history. That doesn’t even include Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, who was placed on injured reserve in October and turns 38 next month.

“There’s no doubt that, other than Peyton Manning [who retired at 39 after the 2015 season], the best quarterbacks in this league and the most established ones in this league when I entered the league in 2012 are all still here,” Cousins said. “Nothing’s changed in six seasons. I find that interesting in that they haven’t really made room for anybody else to come in because they’re all still there in the same roles they were in back in 2012. They’ve set the bar really high. I hope that the next wave of young quarterbacks, guys that are my age and in their 20s, can hopefully repeat the process in the next wave of guys and that we can still be there for a long time.”

While a player’s body breaks down the older he gets, Cousins has been a durable quarterback for the Redskins up to this point. He’s made every start under center since the beginning of the 2015 season. He’s also played in all 11 games this season despite a career-high 31 sacks as the Redskins have suffered injuries all across the offensive line.

Cousins has taken measures to take care of his body, whether that’s through his recovery and investing in a hyperbaric chamber or through his diet that’s based on how his body processes certain food using bloodwork analysis, to keep him on the field. Cousins, who is a Christian, also said he has a lot of people praying for him as well so that he can hopefully receive the opportunity to walk away from the game when he wants to.

“I’m certainly going to do everything in my power during the season, in the offseason, in my lifestyle and the way I operate to make sure I’m out there and can play for a very long time and provide a good return on investment,” Cousins said.

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