Kirk Cousins’s gamble on himself is about to pay off.

Willing to ride out the franchise tag as the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins, Cousins is set to hit free agency behind a three-year body of work that should make him one of the highest-paid players in the NFL.

The high-level performance for Cousins isn’t the result of conservative passes, either. His 42.5 percent completion rate on deep throws, those traveling 20 or more yards in the air, ranks fifth among 27 quarterbacks attempting at least 100 deep throws over the past three years. His passer rating (109.0) on these attempts is second only to Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions. And this proficiency down the field isn’t merely the result of having DeSean Jackson on the roster during his first two seasons under center for Washington: Cousins’s completion percentage (40.5 percent) and passer rating (109.7) rank eighth and seventh, respectively, in 2017 with Josh Doctson as his primary deep threat.

One negative on Mayfield is he will sometimes try to do too much, forcing throws that lead to turnovers. He improved drastically in that area in 2017 despite losing Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook, but will also bail from clean pockets if he takes hits throughout the game. He compares in body type and play style to Russell Wilson, and is best suited for a vertical-oriented offense in which he can lean on his intermediate and deep accuracy.

He wasn’t being shy about that controversial call, and in fact, Cousins went into incredible depth describing the play. He acknowledged that his goal on that pass was to throw quickly and incomplete toward the sideline, but he seemed not to think that his actions met the definition of grounding.

“It was essentially like clocking it,” he told the station. “I mean, I wanted to just spike it. I wanted to throw it at Jamison [Crowder’s] shins, which would have been better. Maybe if I throw it right at Jamison’s cleats — like you do with a screen that’s dead, you just throw it at their cleats — then [officials] would have said ‘Oh, there’s a receiver in the area.’
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