Kirk Cousins grew up in the Chicago suburbs dreaming of someday suiting up for the Bears.On Saturday night, hell get the chance to play quarterback at Soldier Field as a member of the Redskins, not the home team.Its neat to come full circle, to grow up around the Chicago Bears as a fan and now to be able to play against them, said Cousins, the Redskins fourth round draft pick in April.Some of Cousins best memories as a youngster are of attending Bears games with his father. Over the years, Don Cousins, a minister, hosted a prayer sessions with Bears greats Mike Singletary and Leslie Frazier, Kirk Cousins said.I told Rex I was a Bears fan growing up, Cousins said of Redskins backup quarterback Rex Grossman, Chicagos first round draft pick in 2003. I remember when he was drafted. I was quarterback in middle school at the time, and I was excited to hear that the Bears had drafted a quarterback.I remember as a junior in high school driving down on a Sunday night with my Dad for a game against the Falcons, Cousins recalled about Chicago 16-3 victory over Atlanta in December 2005. Rex was injured and he came in during the second half and led a comeback. Michael Vick was the quarterback of the Falcons. I think it was negative 5 degrees that day.Cousins wont start the Redskins second preseason game in his hometown. That distinction will belong to fellow rookie Robert Griffin III, who is scheduled to play the entire first half with Washingtons starters. In the second half, Cousins said he expects to get a quite a few snaps in front of a large contingent of family and friends.On the field, Cousins hopes to be as comfortable. The 23-year-old completed 9-of-22 pass attempts for 74 yards and an interception in the Redskins 7-6 victory over the Bills last week.Cousins is listed as the Redskins third quarterback behind Griffin and Grossman, but hes a lock to make the 53-man roster. Cousins is being groomed to be Griffins full-time backup next season.It takes a game or two to tighten things up, gain some confidence in the guys around and know where they are going to be and what they are going to do, he said. I feel good about this game.Playing well and seeing some familiar faces arent all Cousins is looking forward to, however. According to a post on his Twitter account Thursday night, hes also jonesing for a slice of deep dish from his favorite Chicago area Pizzeria.Excited to play at Soldier Field Sat night born & raised in the Chicago suburbs, Cousins tweeted. Perrys Pizza in Park Ridge is callin my name.
Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 23, 14 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.
—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 6
—NFL Combine (3/2) 7
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 53
—NFL Draft (4/27) 63
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 199
Free agent moves—Offense
Free agency starts two weeks from today. The Redskins have plenty of needs, both big and small. Let’s take a look around and see what offensive positions they might be looking to bolster when things get going. I’ll follow up with the defense in the next few days.
Quarterback—It could be a yawner at this position or there could be plenty of drama. If Kirk Cousins gets franchise tagged or defies current expectations and signs a long-term deal, the depth chart will remain the same. If he is gone via a trade, things could be shaken up. While they may draft a QB in late April they could go for a mid-priced veteran as insurance.
RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0
Running back—The Redskins have a depth chart loaded with young, unproven talent at this position. If they want a veteran presence in the meeting room they could look at someone like Robert Turbin (McCloughan had a hand in drafting him in Seattle in 2012) or maybe Knile Davis.
Wide receiver—Things will get very interesting if the word on the street comes to pass and both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are gone. They have a presumably healthy Josh Doctson in line to replace one but they would need a veteran. Maybe Kenny Stills or Kenny Britt, both young and productive, could be under consideration. If one of the veterans stays they likely will get depth in the draft.
More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?
Tight end—Vernon Davis seems likely to be back. If he’s not, the Redskins probably would rather have an alternative to Niles Paul as Jordan Reed’s primary backup. The probably won’t swim in the deep end of the pool with Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook. But maybe they will look at Jermaine Gresham, who made the Pro Bowl twice in Cincinnati while Jay Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.
Offensive line—Yesterday, JP and I discussed what they might do at left guard if they want to upgrade from Shawn Lauvao. Perhaps they could go for Kevin Zeitler, another Bengal who played under Gruden. But he will command a contract in the $8-$10 million range and with Brandon Scherff coming up for an extension next year that might be too much to spend at the guard position. Look for the Redskins to take an eventual Lauvao replacement in the draft.
Tandler on Twitter
The first Sunday of the 2017 NFL season gets underway 200 days from right now. pic.twitter.com/0ZPanyAq8S— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) February 22, 2017
In case you missed it
- Redskins' 2017 cap is top heavy—is that a problem?
- Will the Redskins stick with Lauvao at left guard?
- Why can't the Redskins sign Garcon and Jackson?
- If Redskins trade Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider
- Cousins trade to 49ers could happen at combine, per NFL analyst
It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.
Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.
That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.
MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem
It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out.
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!