Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports



Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is saying all the right things in public. In private, he has told several people he is open to a reunion with his former offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, per a report by ESPN.


Rookie C.J. Beathard may be fighting to prove that he can be the franchise quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, but the Kirk Cousins and Kyle Shanahan reunion rumors continue to circulate. A feature that will appear in the November 3 issue of ESPN The Magazine explores the uneasy marriage between Cousins and the Washington Redskins.

Within the lengthy article by ESPN senior writer Kevin Van Valkenburg, the story is told of the attempts by both sides to reach a long-term deal. Cousins, who had spent years in the shadow of Robert Griffin III, was insulted by the offers Washington put on the table and decided to gamble on himself and play under the franchise tag. So far, that gamble has paid off very lucratively.

The feature also reveals that Cousins would be willing to leave Washington to be reunited with one of his former offensive coordinators. The quarterback worked with Kyle Shanahan in 2012 and 2013. He also worked with Sean McVay from 2014 through 2016.

"Publicly, Cousins has never shown signs he holds a grudge. He's said all the right things, gushed about the city and the fans on social media. But privately, he has told several people he is open to reuniting with Kyle Shanahan, the former Washington offensive coordinator who is the 49ers' head coach. Or maybe Sean McVay, another former offensive coordinator, who is now running the Rams."

Cousins is playing under the franchise tag for the second-straight year. Last year, Washington used the non-exclusive franchise tag on the quarterback. In February, it elected to use the exclusive franchise tag on Cousins. That meant no other team could even speak to the quarterback about the potential of a competing contract. Cousins was essentially off limits because no team would risk handing over draft picks when it couldn't even be certain a long-term deal could be reached.

Washington could use the franchise tag for an unprecedented third year, but at the cost of nearly $35.4 million, according to reports. Over the course of just two seasons, Cousins is set to earn nearly $44 million. Adding $35.4 million would bring the total to around $79 million over three seasons. The ESPN article reports that, in 2016, Cousins would have agreed to a three-year deal at $19 million per year. Unsure of Cousins' potential, Washington offered just $12 million per year and refused to go over $16 million.

Washington could use the transition tag in 2018 at a starting cost of just over $28.7 million. That would allow the team to match any competing offer. However, with significant cap room and a shrewd contract negotiator in Paraag Marathe, the 49ers could craft an offer that would make things very difficult for Washington if Cousins is San Francisco's target.

"At the end of the day, this is a business and contracts are what they are," said Washington head coach Jay Gruden earlier this month. "Players have agents and the player's always going to do what he thinks is best for himself and the family. Kirk's a great guy and we intend on keeping him and that is the plan, I would think."

Cousins has always been complimentary of Shanahan when asked about his former coordinator.

"He really just tries to stay one step ahead and have a really good plan," Cousins said earlier this month. "He's a guy who doesn't just call plays to call plays. He doesn't just spin a Rolodex and pull a play out. He designs those plays for a reason and he really thinks it through and when he calls the play during a game, it's very intentional and there's a philosophy behind it. I think his results speak for themselves."