by Josh Golden
In sports, it’s crucial to have someone leading the team. Great quarterbacks, along with skills on the field, make great leaders, which causes many to believe that the quarterback position is the most important position in sports. It’s incredibly rare to find one of these quarterbacks, and when you find them, you typically have to use a top draft pick or pay a hefty price in a trade to acquire them. However, this NFL offseason is different. Kirk Cousins, former quarterback of the Washington Redskins, goes on the open market on March 14 and is expected to find a new team. Cousins will have a large price tag for whatever team signs him, but he’ll provide an incredibly large boost to that team. The main five teams in contention for the former Washington Redskin are the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, and Arizona Cardinals.
Despite coming off of a winless season, Cleveland has two major chips that none of the other teams have: cap room and draft capital. Although other teams have a varying amount of cap room, the Browns have the most, with over $100 million in money to spend. Additionally, the Browns have the first and fourth pick in this year’s draft (along with ten other picks) to provide Cousins with plenty of young weapons.
The Jets also have plenty of cap space, with $93 million to spend, second most in the league. With plenty of young talent on the roster, the Jets already have a solid core and are only lacking a franchise quarterback. The addition of Cousins could easily propel them to being a threat to Tom Brady’s reign over the AFC East.
Of all of Cousins’ top options, the Vikings are the only team who made the playoffs last season. Despite having Case Keenum leading the way to the NFC Championship, the Vikings are expected to move on from Keenum and pursue Cousins. Cousins will provide an upgrade at the position for Minnesota and will have many young weapons to throw to such as Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, along with the return of running back Dalvin Cook. The return of the second year back paired with the leadership of Cousins could propel the Vikings past their performance last year and possibly give Minnesota its first Super Bowl.
Many people believe the favorite to sign the quarterback is the Denver Broncos. The Broncos general manager, John Elway, former Hall of Fame quarterback, has made a splash in the quarterback market before, signing Peyton Manning in 2012 to lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl title. After winning the championship two seasons ago, the Broncos still have their championship core and need the return of a franchise quarterback to return to the top.
The Arizona Cardinals also have a shot at Cousins. After the retirement of Carson Palmer, the Cardinals are left with a hole at the position. If Cousins goes to the desert, he’ll be working in a new regime with first-year head coach Steve Wilks and have one of the best running backs behind him in David Johnson. Despite a lack of cap room, there are moves the team can make in order to make room to pay the quarterback.
Cousins clearly has plenty of options on where he can spend the next few years of his career. Although many people believe the Broncos will land the quarterback due to the opportunity to play under one on the greatest players of all time, the cap situation along with aging wide receivers will likely make Cousins avoid Denver. Cousins will also likely avoid Arizona and New York due to a lack of targets, leaving Cleveland and Minnesota. The clear choice is Minnesota due to their recent success, but Cousins likely wouldn’t get too large of an offer from Minnesota, since they have multiple free agents in 2019 who are key players in the organization. Therefore, Cousins should go to Cleveland, ending the recent misery of the organization. Cousins will likely have Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon (if he can stay on the field) to throw to along with 2018 draft pick Saquon Barkley and whoever else the Browns bring in via the draft and free agency.