Sean McVay is no longer Kirk Cousins' coach, but he's becoming the quarterback's best cheerleader -- and tangentially a spokesman for leverage in future contract negotiations.
The Los Angeles Rams' new coach gushed about his former quarterback, saying on WTEM-AM in Washington on Tuesday that Cousins is "a guy you can absolutely win a championship with."
"When you look at Kirk over the course of his career, and really throughout his life, he's been a guy that's continually responded to challenges in a way that makes you believe in him," McVay said, via The Washington Post. "When you're around somebody like this -- you see the work ethic, you see the intrinsic motivation that he has and you see just how important it is [to him] -- it's why you love doing what you do as a coach. He's an example as a player of why I got into this in the first place. And that's what we're hoping to do with [Jared] Goff out there in L.A."
Cousins' contract situation will be tracked closely in the coming months. The Washington Redskins could slap the franchise tag on the quarterback again. The number on the tag would be around $24 million for one year. The window for tagging players opens on February 15 and ends on March 1. If the team can't come to terms with the quarterback, the tag -- even at the exorbitant salary-cap hit -- could be used to ensure Washington has a capable QB in 2017 without committing to Cousins long term.
Cousins proved last season that he can move the ball. Washington ranked third in the NFL in yards per game (403.4) and second in pass YPG (297.4). Yet, the Redskins faltered in several big spots, missing out on a playoff spot in Week 17 by falling for a Giants team with nothing to play for. There are solid arguments for both the "Pay Cousins" and "Don't Pay Cousins" camps to make.
With the dearth of quarterbacks, expect Cousins to eventually get paid by someone -- the San Francisco 49ers will be pointed out as a logical landing spot with Kyle Shanahan (Cousins' offensive coordinator before McVay) set to take the job.
"I would say when you think about what you want a quarterback to be, from an intangible standpoint, first of all, he's off the charts," McVay said. "... And then when you look at what he is on the field, this is a guy that can make all the throws. I think he's a lot more athletic than people give him credit for, and he is tough. He'll sit in there, doesn't watch the rush.
"And I think when you just look at what he's been able to do in his first two years as a starter, the production is very impressive, I think his resume speaks for itself. I think there's a lot of reasons. I could go on and on about my support for Kirk Cousins, and I feel fortunate to have been able to work with a guy like that."