INDIANAPOLIS -- Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said he met with free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins' agent at the scouting combine as well as with Cousins last week, reiterating a desire to reach a long-term deal.
Earlier Wednesday, coach Jay Gruden said he feels "pretty good" that the team will reach a deal after the way Cousins turned the page on the Robert Griffin III era last season.
McCloughan said it wasn't a foregone conclusion that they would have to apply the franchise tag on Cousins by the March 1 deadline. McCloughan said the team would prefer to complete a long-term deal to provide flexibility and more money for other contracts.
"It's an option we have, but I'd rather get a long-term deal done and not have to worry about the tag," McCloughan said. "I had a good conversation with [Cousins] last week in my office. He's a quality guy. He wants to be a Redskin and knows the players. He knows he's respected. The coaching staff respects him, and he respects them. That's very important in this business."
McCloughan has a long-time relationship with Cousins' agent, Mike McCartney, and said they have continued to talk, though the sides had reached an impasse.
"There are conversations going on every day," McCloughan said. "I know [Cousins] respects the Redskins quite a bit, and I know he wants to be here. ... I've been through this many times, and it takes a little time. It's not something you do overnight."
Gruden said the Redskins will consider drafting a quarterback, though it could be a developmental type who ends up on the practice squad. He also said he would like the team to re-sign Colt McCoy. But Cousins remains the quarterback the Redskins want to start next season.
"We'd like to have Kirk back on our football team, no doubt. He made serious strides," Gruden said. "He showed a lot of improvement throughout the season, and we feel great about his upside and letting him be the starter from day one in OTAs, training camp and then taking the job and running with it and seeing how much he improves."
Meanwhile, Gruden said he is disappointed that it didn't work out better with Griffin, the team's previous starting quarterback. It has been no secret that the Redskins would move on from him, but team president Bruce Allen made it official Monday. He told the "Dan Sileo Show" on The Mighty 1090 in San Diego that Griffin would not be on the roster next season.
"I wish it would've worked out, really," Gruden said. "He's a great kid, obviously did everything in his power to win the job and keep the job. But, fortunately for Kirk, unfortunately for Robert, Kirk did an excellent job. It's all about developing Redskin players, not just one guy. Whatever player gives us the best chance to win, we have to go with, and we just thought it was Kirk at the time. He proved us right."
Gruden said injuries were a major factor in Griffin's fall, including tearing multiple ligaments at the end of his rookie season and then dislocating his ankle in 2014.
"The injuries hurt him," Gruden said. "You talk about repetition, and when you miss those games and those practices, it's going to set you back. ... But then, I just think it was more of Kirk's play than anything. Kirk's development in the OTAs, where you could just see him continue to progress, and then when he got the opportunity with the [starters] in practice, there was always a successful drive, and I think everybody could see that. So it was more about Kirk, not as much about Robert as people think."