Kirk Cousins grateful for opportunity Redskins gave him, not vengeful
By Ian Cummings
The Redskins upcoming Thursday night game has been swiftly and widely advertised as a revenge game for Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. But Cousins isn’t playing along with the hype.
Last week, the Washington Redskins faced off against former Redskins offensive coordinator and current 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, and this week, the reunion tour continues, as Washington will travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings, who now enlist the services of former Redskins signal caller Kirk Cousins.
Cousins was drafted by Washington in Round 4 of the 2012 NFL Draft, and after three seasons of inconsistent action and waiting, he was awarded the starting job with a tepid vote of confidence in 2015. After a slow start to that season, and a near benching, Cousins caught fire in a memorable comeback against the Buccaneers. And from that point on, he’d cement his standing as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Two more seasons passed, and despite Cousins’ ascension, the Redskins were hesitant to commit to him longterm. The long-standing contract dispute ended in the offseason of 2018 when the Redskins let Cousins hit the open market. He would sign with the Minnesota Vikings on a then-record-breaking three-year deal. Last season, he helmed the Vikings on an up-and-down 8-7-1 campaign, throwing for 4,298 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.
Cousins kicked off the 2019 season at a low point, and his performance had many discussing the possibility of the Vikings picking a quarterback in Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft. But Cousins has since quieted the criticism. Over the past three weeks, he’s thrown for 976 yards, 10 touchdowns, and just one pick, and he has the Vikings sitting in second place in the NFC North, with a record of 5-2.
Cousins is riding high into the Vikings’ Thursday Night matchup with his former team, the Washington Redskins. But Cousins isn’t looking past the Redskins, and he isn’t looking for revenge. In a clip shared by NFL reporter Patrick Claybon, Cousins had this to say about the organization for which he once played.
“[At the 2012 NFL Draft], I was sitting around, waiting for a phone call for around two and a half days, and I got a call from the Washington Redskins, and that’ll be a memory I’ll always have. I was given an opportunity to start, when there weren’t many people outside of that building who thought I should. They stuck by me when there was a stretch there, we were 2-4, and many people thought it should [have been] over for me to be playing.”
“Then we had that comeback game against the Buccaneers, and I yelled the words ‘you like that’ and kind of never looked back. So I’m just so grateful, and I could list the names; if I list them, I’ll probably leave somebody out. But there are some special coaches and team mates and people in that organization, that I’ll relate to for the rest of my life. When football’s long over, I’ll still be calling them and texting them, and so that’s just the simple truth.”
During Cousins’ long contract saga with the Redskins, the quarterback never openly voiced his displeasure with the front office, but one could insinuate by the lack of discourse between the two sides that an agreement was never reached on Cousins’ value. Even today, media figures debate about who exactly Cousins is as a player, but the Redskins have long left that conversation. For now, they put their trust in former Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, and they have first-round rookie Dwayne Haskins waiting in the wings.
The Cousins saga is long over, but it left an undeniable imprint on the Washington Redskins. And while distance can allow some the opportunity and the comfort to open up about any kind of displeasure, as Kyle Shanahan showed last week, Cousins doesn’t seem interested in entertaining that kind of discussion.