On Tuesday night the Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs sent shockwaves through the NFL by completing a blockbuster trade that sent Alex Smith to the Redskins for a second round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. Smith is just the first domino to fall this offseason, but the timing of this move is what made it shocking. Teams normally do not trade the week of the Super Bowl and the trade can not even become official until the new league year begins on March 14. This move definitely means the Redskins are moving on from Kirk Cousins who they drafted in 2012 and started the last few seasons.
They never seemed fully committed to Cousins because they made him play on the franchise tag in back to back years. He will now be looking for a big money contract elsewhere and the money is probably the reason why Washington did not commit to him in the first place. Cousins is reportedly looking to set the market benchmark for quarterbacks and he will sign one of the biggest contracts of all-time. It still remains to be seen if he is worth all that money, but he proved to be a capable starter during his time in Washington. There are plenty of teams who are desperate for better quarterback play, so he should not have trouble finding a suitor. Here are the 8 best spots he would love to sign with and 7 he should stay away from.
15 Wants to: Miami Dolphins
Miami is only one season removed from going to the playoffs and they have one of the best offensive coaches in football in Adam Gase. They also have a big question mark at quarterback entering next season because of Ryan Tannehill’s health issues. This past season they had Jay Cutler fill in and they had a disappointing 6-10 season.
One could not help but wonder what the Dolphins would have looked like if they had a better quarterback.
Another reason why Cousins would want to go there is because they have solid young players in Jarvis Landry and Devonte Parker. The most obvious reason to go to the Dolphins is because they play in Miami and it’s safe to say the weather is a little better than Washington. It would be hard to move on from Tannehill, but now could be the time.
14 Doesn't: Pittsburgh Steelers
No one expected the Pittsburgh Steelers to be upset by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the playoffs. However when they played in the regular season they had a similar result. After that game Ben Roethlisberger was quoted saying maybe he did not have it anymore because he threw five interceptions. Since he lost to them again it is almost certain he will return as quarterback for the Steelers next season. Had he retired this would have been a great spot for Cousins to win games. The Steelers are a ready made contender and their offence would not be that much worse with Cousins at quarterback. But Big Ben is an all-time great and Kirk Cousins is just a capable starter and that means Ben will be the starter for as long as he wants to be.
13 Wants To: Buffalo Bills
Considering that starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was benched this season for rookie Nathan Peterman, it’s safe to assume the Bills are looking for an upgrade at quarterback sometime soon.
Buffalo would be an attractive place for Cousins to go because they have all the pieces in place around him to get to the playoffs.
They already made the wildcard spot this season with middle of the road quarterback play. They have a solid running game with Lesean McCoy in the backfield, they just traded for Kelvin Benjamin, and they have a decent defence that can shut teams down. The Bills might even try to trade for Cousins before he hits the open market. They have two picks in each of the first two rounds of this year’s NFL Draft, so they have plenty of ammunition to get Cousins early.
12 Doesn't: Houston Texans
The Texans have been searching for a franchise quarterback since their franchise started in 2002. It seemed like they finally found their guy this season when Deshaun Watson bust onto the scene and threw more touchdowns in his first three games than anyone in the history of the NFL. However that excitement quickly turned into grief when Watson tore his ACL in a practice midseason. Cousins could be an option here considering they signed Osweiler two years ago for way too much money. However that is highly unlikely because Watson is expected to make a full recovery and he is already a fan favourite. The last thing Cousins wants is a battle for the starting position, so this option does not make much sense for him.
11 Wants To: New York Jets
The New York Jets have not been that great of a team the past couple of years, and most of the blame could be put on the quarterback position for their struggles. Josh McCown proved last year that the team can win games with solid play under centre. When he played well to start the season they went 2-2 and were competitive in every game they played.
The main reason why this move would make sense for Cousins is because he has a connection to Jeremy Bates who the Jets recently promoted to offensive coordinator.
Bates worked under Mike Shannahan so he would probably have similar offensive principles to the Redskins where Cousins had success. The Jets have plenty of cap space to make him a Lucrative offer so they will definitely be in the running to sign him this offseason.
10 Doesn't: Los Angeles Chargers
Phillip Rivers has been under centre for the Chargers for quite sometime and he is not getting any younger. If he decided to retire this offseason it would be a surprise, but that would put them squarely in the hunt to sign Cousins who will be the number quarterback on the market. The Chargers have a ton of weapons at their disposal so if Rivers did call it quits, this would be a great spot for him to go. However it is unlikely that Rivers is ready to walk away from the game. He played well this season and if they did not get off to such a slow start they would have likely made the playoffs. Rivers is sure to come back with Antonio Gates for one final run.
9 Wants To: New York Giants
The New York Giants are having a controversy at quarterback this offseason. They are in position to take one of the top quarterback prospects in this year's draft holding the number 2 pick overall. They still have two time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning on the roster and they just hired a new coach so they could stick with him. However it is more likely that they draft his heir apparent and start fresh. Manning could also stay and mentor the young quarterback they draft, but they also drafted Davis Webb last season and they would probably not keep three quarterbacks.
If they want an established quarterback to move on from Manning then they could make a run at Cousins.
Cousins would want to go here because he would have arguably the best receiver in football to throw to with Odell Beckham Jr. out wide.
8 Doesn't: New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is a free agent this offseason and it would be a massive shock if the Saints did not resign him so he can end his career a Saint. He just turned 39 so it remains to be seen how long his body will last. He had another great season this year and the Saints were one miracle away from going to the NFC championship game. If they decided to move on from Brees or vice versa then this would be an ideal place for Cousins to go. They have a ton of weapons and Sean Peyton is a quarterback guru. But like everyone else, the Saints would prefer to keep Drew Brees over the expensive Cousins so this probably will not happen.
7 Wants To: Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer decided to retire at the end of the season and that means the Cardinals are in need of a franchise quarterback. The Cardinals might not be the best team in terms of winning record for Cousins to go to, but the roster is stacked with talent. They have one of the game's best young running backs coming back from injury next season and Larry Fitzgerald should be coming back as well. They also have a solid defence with Patrick Peterson and Tyronn Matheiu leading one of the best defensive backfields in the game. Head coach Bruce Arians also decided to leave the team to go into broadcasting, and the new head coach in Arizona surely will want to upgrade from what they have on the roster. They currently have Blaine Gabbert as their starter so if they picked up Cousins it would be a huge win for them.
6 Doesn't: San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have had terrible play at quarterback the past few seasons. However that changed dramatically this year when Jimmy Garoppolo came in and won his four starts. Jimmy G’s contract expires this season, so the Niners are going to have to fork over a ton of money to get an extension done this offseason. Kirk Cousins has obvious ties to Kyle Shannahan (the Niners' head coach) from his time in Washington so he would want to go here if possible. Even though Garoppolo has started fewer games, teams view him as a better long term starter than Cousins. Since Garoppolo already had success as a 49er then they should just re-sign him.
5 Wants To: Minnesota Vikings
No one will forget the Minnesota Miracle that happened when Case Keenan connected with Stephon Diggs to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship this season. However they’ll also remember how they failed to capitalize on that opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. They now have a major decision to make at quarterback this offseason. They could go with one of their current quarterbacks Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, or Sam Bradford. Or they could go an entirely new direction with Cousins now on the market.
Cousins would be an upgrade over any of their three quarterbacks.
Since they have one of the league's best defenses and were so close the Super Bowl they might as well pull the trigger now to sign their franchise guy. Who would you rather give big money to Case Keenum or Kirk Cousins?
4 Doesn't: Cincinnati Bengals
Even though the Bengals have been mediocre for the entire time Marvin Lewis has been head coach, he signed a contract extension this season. One thing the Bengals could do to shake things up is move on from Andy Dalton at quarterback. They already flirted with trading their backup quarterback AJ McCarron as well, so Cousins could be the answer at the position if those two are not. The Bengals already have proven players on defence and one of the best receivers in football with AJ Green. However, Cousins has better options to sign with another team to be the main guy and with two quarterbacks in Cincinnati already battling it out, he is better off going elsewhere.
3 Wants To: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars came out and said Blake Bortles will be their quarterback next season, but that was before Kirk Cousins was an option. Bortles played well enough in the playoffs to get them to the AFC Championship game, but quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez have done that behind a great defence in the past as well. If the Jags were smart they would make a move on Cousins to secure their quarterback spot for the next five years. With Bortles, you never know what type of quarterbacks is going to show up week to week. Cousins on the other hand brings more consistency to the position as a passer. Pairing Cousins with the top defence in the league might ensure another deep playoff run for Jacksonville. With Bortles the offence will always be limited, with Cousins the Jags could possibly take a giant leap forward as a team.
2 Doesn't: Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have had a need at quarterback since Bernie Kosar left the team in the early 90s. Since then every quarterback that has played with the Browns has failed. They have tons of cap space to go after Cousins this offseason, but he is better off staying as far away from Cleveland as possible. Only one team in the history of the NFL had gone 0-16 until the Browns did it this season. Cousins is not a quarterback who can make the offence run by himself and Cleveland lacks weapons on the outside besides Josh Gordon who took two years off football. The only way Cousins signs with the Browns is if they make an offer that is way more than any other team money wise and even then he could still pass on it.
1 Wants To: Denver Broncos
The Broncos have been one of the most competitive franchises in football since John Elway became president of football operations, even winning the Super Bowl in 2015. His most notable move running the team was signing Peyton Manning in 2012. That move propelled Denver into one of the best teams in the league. They are in a similar situation this offseason with Kirk Cousins on the market. Cousins is no Peyton Manning but he would definitely be an upgrade over who they have right now. Elway has already swung and missed on all three quarterbacks he has drafted (Osweiler, Lynch, and Seimian) so he is better off signing a known commodity like Cousins. Along with Denver’s top notch defence they could become contenders again with Cousins under center. Colin Cowherd reported on Jan 31st that the Broncos and Kirk Cousins were already close to a deal. Who knew the offseason started in January.