Kirk Cousins on impending free agency: “At the end of the day, I want to win.”

Feb 02, 2018 | by NICKI JHABVALA, The Denver Post

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Kirk Cousins can confirm that he expects to be a free agent come March 14.

The veteran Redskins quarterback was a guest of SiriusXM NFL Radio here on Radio Row at the Super Bowl on Friday and admitted he was taken aback by the news of the Chiefs trading quarterback Alex Smith to Washington.

If fact, Cousins heard much the same way everyone else did.

“It was a surprise,” he said. “I was working out here in Minneapolis at my hotel and finished my workout, went over to my phone, had a lot of text messages and saw the news. Certainly hadn’t heard anything. But in this league and my story, I’ve learned that curveballs come all the time.

“I expect to be a free agent come March 14. We’ll see if that plays out, and if it does, it’s a unique opportunity I look forward to. Haven’t had a chance to pick where I’m going to play since 2007 when I chose to go to Michigan State. Looking forward to that opportunity.”

The trade and Smith’s four-year contract extension cannot be finalized until March 14, when the new league year begins. But the news sets up Cousins to land the most lucrative contract in NFL history, likely topping the five-year, $135 million contract awarded to Matthew Stafford last season.

This was always a possibility for Cousins, who had already played on two franchise tags with Washington and was on pace to either get a third, sign a long-term deal with the club or hit the open market.

Now he’s high on the Broncos’ list of possible quarterback targets this offseason, as well as that of other quarterback-needy teams.

“At the end of the day, I want to win,” Cousins said. “I was talking with Coach (Charlie) Weis earlier and he made it clear, ‘Hey, go where you can win.’ That’s exactly what the plan is.

“Now … there are a ton of variables that decide, ‘Do we think we can win?’ But that will ultimately be what makes the decision.”

Denver’s top appeal certainly would be its defense, which ranked among the league’s top five in total yards, passing yards and rushing yards allowed last season. Thought it lost a veteran in safety T.J. Wardbefore the season opened and could lose veteran cornerback Aqib Talib this offseason, the group still has one of the NFL’s top players in Von Miller and a stout secondary. But, barring offseason moves, it also has a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and a Hall of Fame quarterback in John Elway making the football decisions.

Cousins’ ties to Colorado already are strong as his agent is Mike McCartney, son of former Colorado coach Bill McCartney,  and the man who drafted him at Washington in 2012 was Mike Shanahan, the former Broncos coach.

“Certainly you hire an agent for a reason so I let him do his job. But we communicate effectively,” Cousins said. “He’s done a great job for me. I trust him implicitly. Mike McCartney has been phenomenal since the day I hired him back in 2012. But in this league, the winning thing comes and goes. I mean, you look at what Jacksonville was able to do this year. Nobody expected that back in July, but they built a great team and they did a great job and went all the way to the AFC Championship game. So a lot can change year to year.”