ORLANDO, Fla. -- The greatest gift Kirk Cousins gave himself since entering the NFL was the ability to compartmentalize, and take every season and moment for what it is. Here at the Pro Bowl, a few weeks after capping a year with 4,917 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions, he enters the most uncertain phase of his career seemingly at peace.
In a few months, he will be an unrestricted free agent. Even now, he has no idea if he'll be back in Washington for season No. 6.
"I don't know," Cousins told me following NFC practice on Wednesday. "I think you have to have an open mind but ultimately it's not in my hands in the sense that the team is going to make that decision and I'll react accordingly."
He added: "I'd love to have a crystal ball that tells me what I'm going to do next year and 50 years after that, but that's not life. And that's not life in this league. I'll just take it a year at a time and trust in the Lord's plan."
Cousins played this last season under the franchise tag. The Redskins have the opportunity to use the tag on him again this season at a heightened cost. Washington could end up spending upwards of $24 million on a one-year deal. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport said to also keep an eye on the 49ers should Washington opt not to use the franchise tag on Cousins. Kyle Shanahan, who was instrumental in Washington drafting Cousins, will almost certainly be in charge of the 49ers in a matter of weeks.
On Tuesday, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said that he "fully anticipates" Cousins returning. President Bruce Allen added: "Kirk is our quarterback."
It was encouraging for Cousins to hear that from a distance. He spent the NFC's first practice enjoying time with his new teammates and having the chance to speak with Drew Brees -- a quarterback who knows Cousins' situation, and the parameters of any offseason negotiation, quite well. Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett crept into the backfield a few times after throws and screamed "You like that? in Cousins' direction to make him feel at home.
As for the comments made by Washington suggesting he'll be back, it's about compartmentalizing. One day at a time.
"There's always work to do," Cousins said. "It's always great to be believed in. You want to prove people right who believe in you and prove people wrong who don't."