The Race for Kirk Cousins

A breakdown of the teams in the race and the variables in play – current QB, cap space ramifications, and 2018 draft position.



Buffalo Bills
Current QB: Tyrod Taylor
Projected Cap Space: $39.2m
Available Savings: $15m
Draft position: 21+

The Bills are comfortable with cap space. Were they to target Cousins, they would obviously be moving on from incumbent QB Tyrod Taylor who carries an $18m cap hit in 2018. If the Bills designate Taylor as a post-June 1 cut, they free up an additional $15m. That would give them ample space to get Cousins and other strong free agents through the door.

Rating: C+


Miami Dolphins
Current QB: Ryan Tannehill
Projected Cap Space: $14.2m
Available Savings: $15.2m
Draft position: 11th

The stars have to align for the Dolphins to acquire Cousins. Firstly, the organisation has to make a decision to part with all three of the QBs currently on the roster – Tannehill, Jay Cutler and Matt Moore. Losing Tannehill creates and additional $14.2m, making it possible to sign Cousins. In reality however, it would require a lot more work with other contracts to make this an appealing prospect for Miami.

Rating: E

New York Jets
Current QB: Nobody
Projected Cap Space: $78.9m
Available Savings: Doesn’t matter
Draft position: 6th

It doesn’t matter because having almost $80m in available cap is a pretty luxurious position to be in already. There are also rumors Muhammad Wilkerson could leave the team this offseason which would push the cap space close to $100m – so expect the Jets to be aggressive this offseason. Despite their poor record, they were a competitive team in 2017 and could be just a QB away from being a good team. That high draft pick gives them plenty of options however.

Rating: A

Cleveland Browns
Current QB: Deshone Kizer
Projected Cap Space: $108m
Available Savings: Doesn’t matter
Draft position: 1st and 4th

Yes, you read that right. 108 million smackeroos. Plus a sack load of draft picks. If there was ever a team loading up to a complete overhaul, it’s the 2018 Browns. Does that give anyone any confidence they’ll actually spend any of these assets wisely? Of course not, but they’ll try. The biggest factor here isn’t whether the Browns want Cousins, but the other way around. That would have to be an elite-level sales pitch. The Browns remain one of two teams on this list (along with the Jets) who could squeeze the Redskins out of the race should they place the Transition Tag on Cousins, with a heavily front-loaded offer sheet.

Rating: B+

Pittsburgh Steelers
Current QB: Ben Roethlisberger
Projected Cap Space: $2.7m
Available Savings: $23.2m
Draft position: Probably 28-32

This idea has been romanticized in some circles, but let’s get real. The only way it could possibly become a reality is if Roethlisberger retires, and even then, the Steelers have one of the poorest cap situations in the whole league. There are very few quick fixes available to them, so it would likely require far too much change to justify.

Rating: E-

Jacksonville Jaguars
Current QB: Blake Bortles
Projected Cap Space: $16.4m
Available Savings: $20m+
Draft position: 21+

The Jaguars are a very intriguing possibility. Firstly, and most obviously, this involves moving on from Blake Bortles. That would seem quite likely should Jacksonville suffer an early exit from the playoffs. However, things would get very interesting should they reach the AFC Championship game, at which stage the probability Bortles returns starts to increase dramatically. If they do decide to pursue Cousins, they would need the $19m space from cutting Bortles, and also have further opportunities to create space with other players on the roster like Dante Fowler and Jeremy Parnell. Few could argue this would seemingly be a very attractive option for Cousins if it became available.

Rating: B-

Denver Broncos
Current QB: Who knows?
Projected Cap Space: $23.1m
Available Savings: ~$5m
Draft position: 5th

A favorite for many, the Broncos aren’t in a great position cap-wise and would need to do some work to pursue this. It’s likely they will try to restructure Aqib Talib’s deal and try to work out something with Bradley Roby also, but there aren’t too many obvious places to go to save cap. That said, with the strength of the rest of the Broncos roster, John Elway would surely prefer Cousins who can step in an win immediately, rather than taking a chance on a rookie with the 5th pick.

Rating: B

New York Giants
Current QB: Eli Manning
Projected Cap Space: $26.3
Available Savings: $16m
Draft position: 2nd

Clearly, this is predicated on the Giants deciding they want out of the Eli Manning business, which is a distinct possibility. If they were to designate him a post-June 1 cut, they clear an additional $16m in cap space and give themselves a very good shot at landing Cousins. Clearly the most galling possibility for Redskins fans, the twist in this tale is obviously that #2 pick the Giants hold. The more realistic scenario is probably using that pick to draft Eli’s replacement, and have him sit for a year.

Rating: C-

Arizona Cardinals
Current QB: Nobody
Projected Cap Space: $38m
Available Savings: ~$5m
Draft position: 15th

The retirement of Carson Palmer was a great thing for this possibility. It gives the Cardinals plenty of space to make a run at Cousins, which otherwise would have been quite difficult with most of their cap tied up in non-flexible contracts. With a defense built to win, a new Head Coach inbound and a draft pick probably prohibitive of landing a top prospect, Arizona is a strong player in the race.

Rating: B+




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