At a time when there’s a growing belief in league circles that the Browns will try to trade for Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Browns “aren’t expected” to do it.
Cabot cites an unnamed league source in support of the report, and presumably the source is someone with the Browns who is in a position to directly know the team’s thinking. The specific phrasing — “aren’t expected” — provides wiggle room for the expectations to change; indeed, it was hardly a total categorical denial of the possibility.
Supporting the “aren’t expected” report is a contention that three other teams have tried over the past 10 days to get Cousins but they were “immediately turned down.” Assuming that the source for the first half of the report is the same source for the second half of the report, how would someone from the Browns know that three other teams have tried to trade for Cousins and were “immediately turned down” if the Browns weren’t either talking to Washington about it — or monitoring the situation sufficiently closely to know how many other teams have tried to get him?
It’s also not clear why the other three teams were “immediately turned down.” It’s one thing to slam the door before an offer is made. It’s quite another to “immediately turn down” a specific offer that was regarded as insufficient. Without knowing whether Washington will not trade him under any circumstance or whether they merely rejected a trio of lowball offers, it’s impossible to know whether Washington would entertain a reasonable trade proposal.
Cabot also presumes that the Browns would make a trade contingent on an extension. While that would be the ideal outcome, the Browns don’t need to do it. They can acquire Cousins for one year at $23.94 million (i.e., only $7.94 million than they’re paying a quarterback to not play for them) and they can apply the transition tender in 2018 at a 20-percent increase, giving them the right to match any offer Cousins receives elsewhere and guaranteeing at least two years with Cousins.
Along the way, Cousins may decide to love the one he’s with. Since finishing his rookie contract, Cousins has not played hardball, opting instead to take the safe approach and pouncing on the money that has been put on the table. Indeed, one day after news surfaced that Cousins had requested/demanded/whatever a trade, he chose to take the money and sign the tender — despite knowing that he risked being traded to Cleveland or any other team once he did.
Bottom line? The belief persists that the Browns may try to get Cousins, Cousins continues to be keenly aware of the possibility that he’ll be traded, and all that’s left to figure out is (1) whether the Browns want him; (2) what Washington wants for him; and (3) whether Cleveland will surrender it?