With Washington and Kansas City tentatively agreeing to a trade that would send quarterback Alex Smith from one team with a Native American nickname to another, the next question becomes where the career of current Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins will lead.
Obviously, the deal to acquire (and to pay) Smith means that Washington will use neither the franchise tag nor the transition tag on Cousins. This means he’ll become an unrestricted agent on March 14, and that he’ll sign with another team.
So which team will he sign with? Let’s consider the possibilities.
Jets: They need a franchise quarterback (they haven’t had one since Joe Namath), and they have the cash and cap space to bring him to town. The broader question is whether they want a 29-year-old franchise quarterback, or whether they’d rather get a guy out of college with 10-15 years of expected playing time in town.
Bills: The thinking is they’ll trade up for a franchise quarterback. But they could sign Cousins and use their draft ammunition on building a team around him.
Browns: Hue Jackson runs a similar offense to Jay Gruden. With Todd Haley now running the offense, however, the question of fit will emerge. Also, the Browns may be more inclined to swing for the fences with a younger quarterback. Then there’s the possibility that Cousins isn’t interested in being part of a reclamation project.
Jaguars: The Jags can pay Blake Bortles $19 million for 2018, or they can use that money on Cousins. Surely, he’d be intrigued by joining the best team (at the other 21 positions) in the NFL.
Broncos: G.M. John Elway desperately needs to upgrade the quarterback position, and Cousins would do it. The real question is whether Cousins would be good enough to bring the team together and lead it to another championship. For now, though, the primary goal should be to avoid what would be the team’s second straight losing season since 1971-72. Cousins would definitely help in that regard.
Giants: They seem to be all in with Eli. But that was before Cousins came free. Will that change their assessment? Maybe, maybe not.
Saints: Drew Brees says he’s staying. In the unlikely event he doesn’t, Cousins becomes an obvious alternative.
Cardinals: They have no quarterbacks. They need a quarterback. Cousins is a quarterback. #logic.