While President Trump was delivering his first State of the Union address last night, there was some other big news breaking in the nation’s capital. The Redskins had traded for Chiefs QB Alex Smith in exchange for young corner Kendall Fuller and a third round pick in a stunning move. The Redskins had also announced they gave Smith a 4 year extension, signing him through 2020 while the Chiefs will now officially begin the Pat Mahomes era.
While not official, this sure signals the end of the road for QB Kirk Cousins and his rocky tenure in Washington, as he will shockingly hit free agency unrestricted. Cousins will surely get his pay day that he deserves, as the Browns, Bills, Broncos, and Jets are on the short list of favorites to land the QB.
Cousins wants to get paid, and the Jets will have the most cap space out of all of these teams to deliver it to him. However, will Cousins want it? I don’t think Cleveland will be a serious contender here, solely on the fact that coming off a 0-16 season, they will most likely look to draft a QB since they won’t be ready to compete now. Buffalo could be an interesting player here, although it is still yet to be determined how they plan to move forward with QB Nathan Peterman and now free agent Tyrod Taylor.
That leaves Denver and the Jets. Turning 30 in August, Cousins wants to win, and the Jets are probably further away than Denver. While both teams had rough seasons, Denver could be a QB away from getting back into playoff contention, as they are still a very talented team that has struggled to get consistent QB play since Peyton Manning retired. It’s clear Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch are not the answers there.
Then there’s the Jets, who have the longest playoff drought in the AFC aside from Cleveland, who will be picking 6th behind Denver in the upcoming draft. The Jets haven’t had a franchise QB arguably since Chad Pennington. Churning through the likes of Brett Favre, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Bryce Petty, the franchise desperately needs stability at the position. Fans are tired of waiting for a franchise QB and they finally have their chance to get one.
From Super Bowl media week in Minnesota, in a WFAN interview Cousins raved about new Jets offensive coordinator and former QB coach Jeremy Bates, calling him a great football mind and praised it as a great move by the Jets. Signing Cousins would be a game changer. If they are able to land him, they would be able to use the 6th pick and the significant remaining cap room to fill other significant holes on the roster, which has many. Specifically, the Jets need to get better in the trenches. Per Pro Football focus, the Jets had the 31st worst offensive line in football this year. Perhaps they could address the offensive line with the 6th pick. They also will need to upgrade their pass rush.
Most importantly, regardless of the choice by Cousins, this is a win-win for New York. Even if he does go to Denver, that means a franchise QB will surely be available to draft with the 6th pick, most likely Baker Mayfield. It’s almost impossible to screw this up, and given GM Mike Mccagnans’ history with QB’s, whiffing on draft picks Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, he has a prime chance for redemption.
It will be a long off-season and it will be a while before things shake out, but signing Cousins and using the remaining cap space aggressively in free agency is a move that will certainly make the Jets serious contenders again next season. This will be a crucial off-season for the GM and the franchise as they have the opportunity to invigorate some energy into a desperate fan base.