Kirk Cousins won’t lack suitors.
If the free-agent-to-be quarterback wants as much cash as possible, it appears the New York Jets are willing to give it to him. The Jets are “willing to pay whatever it takes,” sources told ESPN’s Rich Cimini. And they’ll have the ability to do that.
While the Jets won’t reach the available cap space that the Cleveland Browns will have, they’ll be in the ballpark and that will be more than enough. The Jets have an estimated $76.4 million in cap space now according to Spotrac and can create more by cutting defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, running back Matt Forte, cornerback Buster Skrine, offensive tackle Ben Ijalana and guard James Carpenter. That will put them easily over $90 million in cap space. However much any team can offer Cousins, the Jets can match and probably exceed it. Since most free-agency decisions come down to money, no matter what a player says beforehand, that gives the Jets a chance.
However, Cousins has been adamant he wants to play for a winner, and it’s tough to see the Jets in that class. The Jets overachieved to get to 5-11 last season, and a big reason was that Josh McCown had a good season. It’s not like Cousins would have added many more wins. McCown and Cousins were, statistically, relatively similar last season. Cousins is a better player, and certainly the one you want going forward, but the 2017 Jets wouldn’t have been a playoff contender with Cousins. The 2018 Jets likely won’t be a playoff contender with Cousins, either. There are still significant holes in the roster and they’re a couple years away at least from being a threat to the Patriots in the AFC East. Some issues could be addressed in free agency, and Cousins would be the centerpiece of the building effort. But Cousins would have to want to be part of a building project, when he has said he wants to go to a winner. The Jets would also have to convince him they’re a better long-term option than any other rebuilding team like the Browns, who have a lot of young talent and two of the top four picks of this year’s draft.
Cousins could choose to go to teams closer to the playoff race than the Jets, like the Denver Broncos or Arizona Cardinals. Perhaps the Minnesota Vikings will be interested if they can’t retain Case Keenum. Cousins might have to take a little less money from those teams. The Jets will be in the running too. Nobody is going to be able to overbid them, at least.
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