ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that there are just four teams in play for former Washington QB Franchise Taggers QB Kirk Cousins: the Denver Broncos, the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings.
It’s obviously a huge signing that’s likely coming on March 14 when free agency opens as the NFL new year begins that will change the course of one franchise but also change the outlook for the 2018 NFL Draft let alone mock drafts in the interim.
Cousins to Denver
Since winning Super Bowl 50 in Peyton Manning’s swan song, the Broncos have struggled mightily to get a medium-term solution let alone a long-term one. When QB Brock Osweiler signed a megacontract with the Houston Texans, the Broncos used a first-round pick on QB Paxton Lynch. He was unable to beat out QB Trevor Siemian for the starting job though. Suffice to say, the results weren’t good. So much so that they got then Head Coach Gary Kubiak fired. In came Vance Joseph and the Siemian/Osweiler/Lynch carousel went as well as you’d think...which is why they’re in the Cousins race.
It makes for an interesting setup in the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs nearly gave the division away losing six out of seven games in the middle of the season. They were able to agree to terms on a trade with Washington to send QB Alex Smith to D.C. as Cousins’ replacement, so they’ll be turning to second-year QB Pat Mahomes. Meanwhile, the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders are trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2017 after QB Derek Carr led them to the playoffs a year prior. And then there’s the Los Angeles Rams’ crosstown friends, the Los Angeles Chargers. With QB Philip Rivers in his 189th season in the NFL, who knows what they’re going to be next year. Their 2017 was always about surviving the early section of the schedule to keep them in contention late, but an 0-4 start eventually put things too far out of reach.
Cousins to Arizona
With QB Carson Palmer retiring, the need’s obvious. So they’re looking at the free agent market and potential trades with the 2018 NFL Draft offering a clear solution as well. As of March 14, they’ll have exactly 0 quarterbacks under contract...so yeah.
Obviously for us, their decision will be one we revisit twice each year. And it will clearly make for a more interesting side than what we saw the last two years. With a new head coach in Steve Wilks, we’ll have to see how their offseason plays out. Suffice to say, it’s a new NFC West. With the Rams holding the divisional crown, things feel pretty good overall right now. I wouldn’t discount a bounceback from the Seattle Seahawks though. And I don’t know that there’s a more excited fan base than the San Francisco 49ers’ base with QB Jersey Carhopalot being locked up on a record-breaking deal.
Cousins to New York
Jets HC Todd Bowles pulled off a near-miracle last season with the Jets. With arguably the worst roster in the NFL, he was able to squeeze out five wins on the back of QB Josh McCown. So while he deserves all the credit for overseeing the job and staving off complete dissolution, we should still be honest with the state of that depth chart. It ain’t nice. Still, getting some certainty at QB would be a great start to putting together a competitive group in the AFC East with an eye toward the post-Tom Brady landscape.
Because that’s really what it’s all about. The New England Patriots, dynasty and all, are coming to an end. And while Head Coach Bill Belichick had his post-Brady QB in Jiffy Garparpapar, there’s no future on the QB depth chart right now (Can you imagine Brian Hoyer playing for Belichick?!). If I’m guessing, I could see Belichick retiring along with Brady leaving the Pats high and dry. Until that happens, you would always be safe in an assumption that they’re going to continue to dominate the division. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are just kind of there. They exist. Buffalo made the playoffs for the first time since 1999 which was very cool, but that lasted all of one game. And their season is probably equally known for the playoff game as it is for Head Coach Sean McDermott nearly botching things in his first year with that memorable (for the all the wrong reasons) switch from QB Tyrod Taylor to QB Nathan Peterman.
Cousins to Minnesota
What a year in Minneapolis. With QB1 Teddy Bridgewater still rehabbing his knee, they had to start the season with QB2 Sam Bradford whose knee failed him yet again leading them to put their season on the shoulders of QB3 Case Keenum. With Super Bowl LII looming in Minneapolis, surely it would be a failed campaign, no? No. The Minneapolis Miracle is one of those moments that fans will never forget. And I’m sure even though the Vikings couldn’t cap it off with a Super Bowl win, their fans are coming out of the season feeling gracious for what went down and excited for the years ahead. But they’re in a weird spot re: QBs. All three of the aforementioned QBs are on expiring deals. Re-signing any of them comes with significant risk. Bridgewater took a few snaps at the end of their Week 15 blowout of the Cincinnati Bengals, but otherwise hasn’t played any football for the last two years. Bradford’s knee is so risky at this point you can’t commit anywhere near top dollar for him. And Keenum, as fun as his 2017 season was, is still Case Keenum.
So I could see the Vikings landing Cousins and remaining one of the best teams in the NFL and of course the NFC North. It’s a loaded division though. QB Aaron Rodgers is coming back in 2018 to try and get the Green Bay Packers back in the playoffs. The Detroit Lions were a nine-win team in 2017, so they’re going to expect to challenge. And the Chicago Bears are hoping to replicate the success the Rams had in hiring HC Sean McVay to resuscitate QB Jared Goff’s nascent career with new HC Matt Nagy and second-year QB Mitchell Trubisky.
Regardless of where he lands, it means one of these teams can get scratched off the first-round QB option. It means a shifted outlook in the division. And it solidifies the most important position in the sport for years to come.
Where do you think he lands, Rams fans? Would you rather see Cousins or a first-round rookie QB in Phoenix? How do you see these four teams filling out their QB1 slot?