Keeping Kirk Cousins won't cause issues

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
6:10
PM ET
Kirk Cousins made his request known. He has also made it known that if he’s not traded he’ll go back to being who he was the past two years: the good backup quarterback who does what’s asked and causes no issues.

“I won't lose a lot of sleep over the unknowns," Cousins told ESPN.com nearly two weeks ago. "If it doesn't present itself, then I enjoyed being part of the Redskins and look forward to being with them. Until I'm told otherwise, I'm a Redskin and I expect to handle the role as No. 2 as best I can."

Now that league sources have told Adam Schefter that the Redskins have no interest in trading Cousins, the third-year quarterback will have to honor that statement. Of course, there’s always the possibility that some team gives the Redskins an offer they didn’t expect -- and ultimately can’t refuse.

[+] EnlargeKirk Cousins
AP Photo/John BazemoreKirk Cousins threw 4 TD passes and 7 interceptions last season.
But their statement tells two things: They like Cousins and want to keep him as insurance in case something happens to Robert Griffin III (or if he doesn’t develop the way they hope); and, two, they didn’t think they’d get the sort of compensation to make moving him worthwhile. Why give up a young quarterback, who still could play a role for you -- next year or in the future -- if you don’t have to? And the Redskins don’t have to make any move with him. If I'm Jay Gruden (and I turned Andy Dalton into a playoff quarterback), I'd want to see what I had before peddling any young quarterback.

Still, how will this play out in the locker room? Will Cousins be the good soldier he’s been in the past? It’s tough to see him being otherwise. One reason teams liked Cousins coming out of Michigan State was his intangibles. His desire to start is no different than it was in, say, Week 8 of last season. At that time, Cousins would spend his lunchtime studying his playbook, preparing as if he would start. I’d expect him to do the same in Week 8 next season, regardless of how well Griffin is or isn’t doing.

I’ve always thought Cousins was a good backup for Griffin because he always understood what his role is -- and that this was Griffin’s team. Cousins respects the position and the team aspect. But it’s also clear that Cousins won’t bow down to anyone. When he made it known that he would welcome a trade, Cousins was expressing belief in himself, that he was ready to indeed lead a team. Though his desire to start has always been there, the confidence that it was time to happen perhaps has grown.

Cousins’ three-game stint at season’s end did not show that he should challenge Griffin for the job. Griffin, though, understands he can’t take success for granted, and his offseason already shows that’s the case. Having a hungry young backup can only help push him a little more (as if he needed more motivation).

Cousins won’t make waves. It’s just not who he is. But he’s also not about to just accept his fate.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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