Where’s Kirk Going?

If you’re a fan of football then you’ve heard the news about Alex Smith being traded to the Redskins. So, 2+2 means Kirk Cousins is headed out of town.

Reports from several in-the-know league aficionados have indicated the Redskins never seriously entertained the idea of bringing Cousins back in 2018, and haven’t had serious communication with him on the topic since the mid-season.

There are dozens of articles circulating right now about the price tag the Redskins paid for Smith, and a fair number of opinions about where Mr. Franchise Tag is heading, so now it’s pretty clear, barring some serious stupidity, that Cousins isn’t going to get that third tag. I’m not going to harp on the Smith situation, I’m probably one of the few football guys around that thinks he’s deserved better than he’s gotten so far, so—take that money and run—is where I’ll leave it.

Cousins’ final destination, however, could have a huge impact on the 2018 season, so let’s examine some possible destinations.

First, what do we know?

Several teams are in need of a quarterback. A number of those teams have the cap space to make a play for a big-time quarterback. This is what the line-up looks like and their cap space numbers per Spotrac:

  1. Cleveland Browns 102.6 million in cap space for 2018
  2. Denver Broncos 24.7 million in cap space for 2018
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars 20.1 million in cap space for 2018
  4. New York Jets  77.6 million in cap space for 2018
  5. Buffalo Bills 30.9 million in cap space for 2018

Kirk Cousins has publically said he is more concerned with winning than landing the biggest paycheck, and I tend to believe the guy.

So, I’m going to eliminate the Jets and the Browns. Even though Cleveland had a decent draft last year, and they’re set to land more top picks in the upcoming draft, I don’t think Cousins views himself as the savior of the Cleveland Browns. A quality quarterback can do a lot for a team, but the coaching staff and recent failures are a hard bet to believe in. If Cousins wants to win, it won’t be in Ohio.

Similarly, many reports are linking Cousins to the Jets because he apparently respects their new OC, Jeremy Bates, but this is also a team that was ‘tanking’ just a year ago. The only thing impressive about this last season was the fact that they had ‘unexpected’ success (5-11) with a 38-year-old quarterback. This team is not on the verge of competing for the playoffs, let alone a Super Bowl. No, I don’t think we’re going to see him with the Gang Green next season.

So, what’s left?

The Bills, Broncos, and Jaguars. The Bills made the playoffs for the first time in a great long while, and it was very clear they didn’t believe in their quarterback. They tried a mid-season swap with disastrous results, and I think the writing is on the wall with this team: they want a quarterback now. The desire is there on the Bills’ side and I can see Kirk Cousins appreciating some of the offensive weapons he might have access to: LeSean McCoy, Kelvin Benjamin, Charles Clay to name a few. Now, I think the Bills only become an iffy proposition because of the other teams that are still in the running, the Denver Broncos and the Jacksonville Jaguars. I don’t think he goes to Buffalo when the dust (or snow in this case) settles.

The Jacksonville Jaguars made a tremendous leap in 2017 and fielded one of the most dominant defenses in the league. Their secondary played well, their defensive front applied pressure, and they were all around a solid football team right up until old man Brady and the Patriots ended their Super Bowl dreams. Bortles surpassed expectations and many think that might put a stop to Jacksonville’s quarterback hunt but… the question isn’t whether or not he can keep a team from losing, it’s whether he can win you the game. Blake Bortles isn’t that guy. He had ample opportunity against the Patriots when it mattered the most, and he fell short. He’s a known commodity, he’s not going to become a different guy overnight. I think Jacksonville is still in the hunt, but because I can’t read minds, I have them losing out on Cousins to the last team left.

The Denver Broncos are recently removed from a Super Bowl of their own dominant defensive performance. To say they aren’t clicking right now is an understatement, but their problems have always been on the offensive side of the ball. Even with the legend, Peyton Manning, at the helm in his waning years. I don’t think it’s a secret, John Elway wants a real quarterback. We saw what his current trifecta is capable of and it’s not pretty. A bad QB doesn’t seem to be something Elway can abide, and he’s also proven he’s willing to go after a guy. If people think he was so willing to pursue Tony Romo, my money is on him making an earnest shot to get Kirk Cousins. I think Cousins likes the atmosphere that Denver provides and he likely thinks he can help that team return to prominence.

Kirk Cousins is in orange and blue in 2018.