At the Pro Bowl, Kirk Cousins embraces the moment and waits for a deal.
Redskins quarterback has no long-term deal but is staying positive during his first Pro Bowl experience
kissimmee, fla. — The Kirk Cousins contingent stood on the side, waiting patiently as the Pro Bowl quarterback fulfilled his obligations earlier this week: a lighthearted practice with his NFC teammates, a few autograph signings and a handful of questions from reporters about his future with the Washington Redskins.
The quarterback accommodated them all. He posed with every child on the field who wanted a picture and agreed to every recorder and camera pointed in his direction before leaning over the rail to join his family and friends, many based in Central Florida. Cousins’s parents reside in the area — his father, Don, is a pastor in Orlando. His brother previously worked for the Orlando Magic and still lives in the city, and his sister is on a medical school rotation in the Orlando area.
The stars aligned for Cousins for this moment. Of all the years to move the event to Orlando, it just happened to coincide with Cousins’s first Pro Bowl nod.
“It timed up well, because my whole family is already here,” Cousins said.
Cousins has had a curious sense of timing since arriving in the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick out of Michigan State in 2012, the same year the Redskins traded up to take Robert Griffin III second overall. As the Griffin saga played out, Cousins bided his time. The Redskins finally named Cousins the starter before the 2015 season, and all he did was rewrite the franchise record books while leading the team to the playoffs.
He backed up that success with more franchise records in 2016. It wasn’t enough to merit a longterm deal — at least not yet — but it did earn him his first Pro Bowl invitation.
“It’s surreal,” left tackle and fivetime Pro Bowl honoree Trent Williams said about sharing the experience with Cousins for the first time. “From watching him wear No. 12 and not even playing in the game, and now he’s a Pro Bowl quarterback, that’s the things you see in the business that kind of blows you away. His resiliency to overcome all the bumps, all the doubters that he’s had to get to where he is today as considered one of the best in our game and be here with some of the best in the game, I’m extremely proud of him as a teammate and as a good friend.”
This month has been a bittersweet experience for Cousins. He was initially selected as an alternate, but when Aaron Rodgers declined the invitation, Cousins replaced him on the NFC roster. Sunday’s exhibition game will be the first time Cousins has played since the regular season finale against the New York Giants, when he threw a costly interception with less than 90 seconds left to kill Washington’s playoff hopes.
Cousins said it was the worst professional moment in his career.
“One of the last throws of the season, throwing an interception with a chance to go to the playoffs,” Cousins said. “I’m trying to get better from that one. That one hurt.”
The throw reignited lingering doubts about Cousins’s ability to lead the Redskins to the Super Bowl. Adding uncertainty to the matter is the departure of offensive coordinator Sean McVay, who is now head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.
Cousins enters this offseason as a pending unrestricted free agent. The Redskins have said they want to keep him. Cousins has said he would like to stay — under the right circumstances. The team gave him the franchise tag last offseason, guaranteeing a salary of just under $20 million. If the sides can’t agree on a long-term deal, he could be franchised again at a salary of just under $24 million.
The process is still in its early stages, however. In the meantime, Cousins will be wearing the same helmet at Camping World Stadium as he has worn throughout the first five seasons of his career. The Pro Bowl experience has been a dream come true for Cousins, and he hopes it’s not a one-time occasion.
“You’re going to ride the roller coaster in this league at times,” Cousins said. “[The season finale] was certainly a low point, but fortunately I think I’m going to get some other opportunities. I’m going to get ready for those, learn from what happened and keep trying to get better . . . .
“What I’m excited about is that even though it’s my second year starting, and I’ve started  games in this league, I haven’t started 100. I’ve got a long ways to go. I can improve a lot, so I’m excited to see what we’ve already done knowing that I can get better. If I can keep improving, that’s where you think maybe we can do something special down the road.”
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins will participate in his first Pro Bowl in front of family in Orlando.