Kirk Cousins will become the highest paid player in NFL History this offseason and one team will pay him that big money. Since replacing RG3 to start the 2015 season, Cousins ranks third among qualifying NFL quarterbacks in completion percentage (67.0) and sixth in passer rating (97.5). Lets take a look at 5 potential landing spots for the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent.
New York Jets
The Jets will have the easiest path to get Kirk Cousins this offseason. They’re currently projected to have $74M and will save another $11M when they release Mo Wilkerson. Cousins will likely be asking for $30M annually from teams and the Jets have that to offer while a team like Denver would have to play around with some significant pieces to make it all work. The Jets recently promoted Jeremy Bates to offensive coordinator. Cousins is a fan of Bates, who worked under Mike Shanahan in Denver. Shanahan
The Broncos finished 5-11 last season and a big reason for that was the quarterback play. That was made evident as they watched Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch struggle throughout. Denver has the fifth pick in the draft and could choose to draft a quarterback there, but knowing John Elway, he will go all out for a veteran like Cousins. But it won’t be easy. The Broncos currently have only $27M in cap space so they will likely move on from Aqib Talib and save $11M. From there, they have to decide what to do with Emmanuel Sanders, Demariyus Thomas and CJ Anderson. They could hold on to all three but the cap situation will become a bit tough for them. The intriguing part for Cousins will be the defense is already set to succeed in Denver. Broncos have a top five defense, finishing at number three overall (fourth against the pass, fifth against the run). All John Elway really wants is a QB who can step right in and take care of business on offense, the defense will do their part.
Vikings are in an interesting situation as they have no QBs under contract after making the NFC Championship Game this past season. All three, Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, will be unrestricted free agents. The league wide expectation is that they let Bradford move on while it remains unknown what they’ll do with Keenum and Bridgewater. Vikings GM Rick Spielman has a history of adding veteran quarterbacks such as Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb and Sam Bradford. Cousins would arrive in that same fashion. But would Minnesota really move on from Keenum after all the magic he had this past season?
If Cousins is looking to win, the Vikings roster would be most appealing, with top tier skill position players at running back, wide receiver and tight end…. and of course one of the best young defenses in the league. The Vikings will also have close to $50M in cap space so they have the capital to make it happen.
Cardinals are in desperate need of a new QB with Carson Palmer retiring and sitting in a draft slot (15th overall) where its unlikely a top QB falls to them. With Larry Fitzgerald returning for one more season and one of the league’s premier running backs in David Johnson returning from injury, Cousins will have the weapons to compliment a top-10 defense. Only problem for Arizona will be the price tag. The Cardinals currently only sit at $23M in cap space and while they could structure a deal in a way where it would all work, it seems unlikely of Arizona to do that. This situation will be an interesting one to watch.
Browns will have a whopping $110M of cap space heading into free agency and could write Cousins a blank check to make him both the highest paid player on a per year salary basis and the highest amount of guaranteed money the NFL has ever seen. Cousins could literally be the definition of “franchise QB” if he can turn around the mess Cleveland has become. Will Cousins see the Browns’ ownership as even more dysfunctional than he saw the Redskins’ ownership? Possibly. But if Cleveland landed Cousins and added more pieces around him with the remaining cap space they’ll have, it definitely makes Clevleand very intriguing. And lets not forget they have two picks in the top five which can then be used on a RB like Saquon Barkley and another major piece. The Browns will have several options at QB, but this would be swinging for the fences.
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