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Free Agent Outlook: Kirk Cousins

It is an above average year for free agent quarterbacks, and at the forefront sits 29-year-old Kirk Cousins. The 6-year quarterback has enjoyed varying degrees of success throughout his career. Since taking over for Robert Griffin III, Cousins has seen his win total drop by one each year, and seen his interception total rise by one in the same time. His highest TD and completion percentage totals occurred back in 2015, the same year he reached his only playoff game as a starter. Cousins has been franchised tagged twice in his brief three season stint as a starter for the Washington Redskins, but that story looks to have closed after the trade for Alex Smith from the Chiefs.

Despite the declining numbers and rising age on Cousins, he is a guy who can provide five or six above-average seasons for whichever team is able to land the one-time pro-bowler. Whether it be a franchise that needs to replace a quarterback, needs a playoff caliber one, or just needs some stability at the position, there are plenty of teams that could act as landing spots for Kirk Cousins:

1.) Arizona Cardinals

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Why it Makes Sense:

The Arizona Cardinals are going into the offseason with zero quarterbacks on their roster, so why wouldn’t they look at the top passer on the market? The Cardinals’ draft pick doesn’t come until number 15, and it is all but certain the top quarterbacks are off the board at that time with many teams ahead of them having quarterback needs. The Cardinals are not afraid to splash cash on a veteran quarterback either as evidenced with Carson Palmer the past few seasons. If this team is ready and willing to contend for a playoff spot now, Kirk Cousins should be the guy they go after.

Why it Doesn’t Make Sense:

The sole reason the Cardinals may pass on Cousins is his price tag. Arizona only has $22 million in cap space, and Cousins is going to command at the very least half of that space. The Cardinals, from a financial standpoint, would likely be better off looking for a cheaper option or even take a chance on someone in the draft.

 

2.) Buffalo Bills

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Why it Makes Sense:

The Bills front office has already shown a lack of trust in Tyrod Taylor as evidenced by the benching mid-season for Nathan Peterman. It didn’t help Taylor in that Buffalo did not score a touchdown in their lone playoff game this season. Cousins is searching for a contender, and the Bills were one of the few teams to make the playoffs last year who could be in the market for a quarterback.

Why it Doesn’t Make Sense:

The Bills lack of interest in Cousins may stem strictly from a lack of cap space. With $29 million to spend in free agency, they are going to have to make moves to clear up cap space for Cousins if they want to get better as a team overall. I do not see the Bills willing to break up their roster for Cousins, but it still remains a possibility.

 

3.) Cleveland Browns

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Why it Makes Sense:

The Browns haven’t seemed to have an NFL worthy starter in, well, decades. Kirk Cousins is an established starter in this league and this move would avoid all the risks of diving into the draft where the Browns have failed miserably in terms of quarterbacks. The Browns also come into the offseason with a league leading $110 million in cap space, plenty enough to give Cousins the contract he demands.

Why it Doesn’t Make Sense:

Once again, this franchise is more likely than not to go after a quarterback prospect in this year’s draft whether it be with the 1st or the 4th overall pick. From the other side, it is hard to imagine Kirk Cousins going anywhere near Cleveland, no matter the wad of cash the Browns wave in front of him.

 

4.) Denver Broncos

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Why is Makes Sense:

The Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian projects were a bust and no one has claimed the famed position of Denver Broncos quarterback. The Broncos have a playoff-caliber roster and are missing just a few pieces to contend in the AFC West again. Kirk Cousins could be attracted to the recent success of the Broncos and Denver could bring him in to restore that success.

Why it Doesn’t Make Sense:

As good as Cousins is, there are a lot of reasons for the Broncos to pass on him. With the 5th overall pick in this years draft, a potential star could be waiting for them on their draft board. The thought of taking on a younger and cheaper quarterback could attract the Broncos due to the wealth of talent in this year’s draft. There is also the possibility that Paxton Lynch gets a chance to prove his worth. Going with the young, cheap option makes more sense for the Broncos who only have $27 million in cap space.

 

5.) Indianapolis Colts

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Why it Makes Sense:

What is going on withAndrew Luck? No one really knows. If Luck is a no go, there is a big hole at quarterback for the Colts. Unlike a lot of the other teams on this list, Indianapolis wouldn’t have to make too many roster moves to clear cap space for Cousins’ contract as they have $74 million to spend.

Why it Doesn’t Make Sense:

If Andrew Luck is healthy, he’s going to be the guy in Indianapolis. Also, the Colts hold the number 3 overall pick in the draft and could look for a younger option if Luck’s injury remains serious. In the event that Luck may be out for just the start of the season, the Colts could even look for a one year rental guy and use the cap space on other needs.

6.) Minnesota Vikings

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Why it Makes Sense:

The Vikings have $49 million in cap space and they have a huge void in their depth chart where quarterbacks should be. Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Bradford (all free agents) are all very respectable quarterbacks, but so is Kirk Cousins. The Vikings have plenty of options once free agency hits to pick from, and it is likely that any of these guys would be attracted to the idea of playing for an NFC championship team.

Why it Doesn’t Make Sense:

I believe that Vikings main target should be Case Keenum. He is only one year older than Cousins, knows the Vikings system and is familiar with their receivers, and was even in the MVP discussion for a brief moment. If Keenum, Bridgewater and even Bradford land at different teams, I think it is only then that the Vikings should look at giving Cousins the huge contract he demands.

 

7.) New York Giants

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Why it Makes Sense:

Eli Manning’s seasons are numbered, and it is never too early to look for a new    quarterback. While I think this is one of the more unlikely destinations on the list, I have to include them because the Giants will be in the market for a quarterback sooner rather than later.

Why it Doesn’t Make Sense:

The Giants are not anywhere close to contending for a championship. They have to watch their cap space if they want to be able to retain Odell Beckham Jr. Once he hits free agency and if they do choose to decide to spend, you would have to think it all goes towards their terrible offensive line. The Giants sit at the number 2 spot in the draft and easily could find their quarterback for the future come draft night instead.

 

8.) New York Jets

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Why it Makes Sense:

The Jets need somebody, anybody to hold down the quarterback position for more than three seasons. The Jets have $73 million in cap room and have expressed their willingness to break the bank on Cousins this offseason. Cousins has noted he wants to play for a contender, but the sum the Jets offer may be enough to tempt Cousins to New York.

Why it Doesn’t Make Sense:

The Jets have a “decent” spot in the draft sitting at number 6 overall. New York may choose to move up, or take whatever quarterback falls to them whether it be Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield. This path gives the Jets a younger quarterback, who could theoretically develop into the franchise guy this team desperately needs

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