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Kirk Cousins: 'I haven't plateaued' yet as a quarterback

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Kirk Cousins and the Redskins have not made any progress on a new extension, but the Washington quarterback wants to let us know that he'll be worth every penny for a long time to come.

"I do think I'm playing with more confidence," he said this weekend at his youth football camp, via CSN Mid-Atlantic. "I have a better understanding of defenses and our scheme and our protections and our routes. And, as a result, I'm able to grow as a player."

He added: "That's to be expected. I am only going into Year 5 and haven't played a ton of football. But I'm able to grow and still improve as a player. I haven't plateaued -- and that's exciting. We'll just keep stacking days on top of each other and see where it takes us."

Right now, Washington is in a great spot. The team has roughly $11 million in salary-cap space (top 51) even with Cousins commanding $19.95 million on the franchise tag. If he truly feels that he will make a leap in his second year as a full-time starter, consider the heightened salary an allowance -- it's a tremendous amount of money for a former fourth-round pick and a more-than-generous offer for one year of work.

The Redskins could lock themselves into a long-term deal with a quarterback who played 10 phenomenal games to close out the 2015 season, or they could make him do it again against a schedule that is far more brutal than the one Cousins had to navigate the year prior. Cousins will open up his season against the Steelers before facing Dallas and a much-improved Giants team. There's also a stretch when the Redskins face Cincinnati, Minnesota, Green Bay, Dallas and Arizona all in a row.

We're not saying that Cousins won't be able to rise above the heightened challenge, but the risk of backing into a horrid long-term deal is far greater than some hurt feelings over one season. Of course, that's not normally how this process works. Now that the Redskins have gotten rid of Robert Griffin III, there really is no backup plan. Cousins wants a long-term deal regardless of how hard he pounds his fist in public and he holds the cards. Washington had better hope there is no plateau.

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