NFL free agency talk all begins with what will happen with Kirk Cousins. That’s it. We once saw Peyton Manning enter free agency but he was coming off missing a year with a major neck injury. And Manning was truly zeroing in on only a couple teams. Cousins is healthy and he may only have a couple teams interested but that is because the amount of cap space needed to fit in a monster QB deal.
As I type this Jimmy Garropolo and his 7 games of action just became the highest paid player in the NFL. He only had one team to negotiate with and did that. If the Redskins do not tag Cousins he will have many teams coming for him. And if he chooses he will easily top the deal Jimmy G. just got. Let’s look at the options:
Most of the talk surrounds around Denver being the likely place that Cousins will have the most interest in. John Elway lured in Manning a few years ago and Elway’s being there should help. Denver also has some cap space but will have to make more. The defense is still good and the receivers are big names but will they be the same at seasons start? I am not sure. And are Vance Joseph and Bill Musgrave appealing to Cousins? Maybe the Broncos should have looked at bringing back Kirk’s biggest believer, Mike Shanahan. I don’t see Denver as the most attractive spot for Cousins.
Arizona is similar to Denver for me. They have talent at some key spots and they have some cap space but they will have to make more. And where will that space be? Arizona has a new unproven defensive coach in Steve Wilks and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Do either of these guys attract Cousins? Hard to tell with no past connections to him. I don’t see Arizona as the most attractive spot for Cousins.
The talk of the New York Jets having a chance with Cousins seems to revolve around their hiring of Jeremy Bates. Thought is that Mike Shanahan may push Cousins towards Bates due to their past work together. The Jets also have a ton of cap space. Bates is going to have to be McVay or Kyle Shanahan like to get Cousins. I don’t see the Jets as the most attractive spot for Cousins.
Let’s talk Cleveland Browns. 1-31 the last two years but outside of that they have a lot to offer. Hue Jackson is an offensive coach. The Browns finally brought in a real GM in John Dorsey. If Cousins went to Cleveland, Dorsey has picks 1 and 4 and 2 high seconds to instantly get Cousins help. They could also big huge players in free agency even after making Cousins the highest paid player in the league. Cleveland could easily top the Niners deal with Garrapolo to attract Kirk. But the Browns with the first pick may opt for quarterback. The Browns should be players for Cousins but the draft may be their option.
Let’s get to the best option. It isn’t that hard to figure the Vikings are the most attractive option. They are easily the most talented squad already of the Cousins suitors. Top defense, two pro bowl level wideouts, solid tight end and an electric young running back. Mike Zimmer is also a legit coach. The Vikings need an offensive coordinator currently but should get a good one like the Eagles John DeFilippo. The Vikings also have plenty of cap space to pay Cousins and make more moves. But would Minnesota move on from Case Keenum after such a good season? It is a real tough decision. The Vikings are by far Cousins best option to me.
One last thought. Say Cousins gets a mega deal from say the Browns. One that averages over $30 million a year. What happens with the Packers and Aaron Rodgers then? Rodgers will obviously want more. Green Bay would have to do it but it could get interesting.