Last year in July, I wrote a predictive article: “Kirk Cousins: The Hero the NFL Players Need, but the Hero They Don’t Deserve.” It’s worth the read considering recent events surrounding Kirk Cousins, but in essence, I compared NFL salaries and free agency to those of the NBA and MLB. Kirk Cousins’s impending free agency and franchise tag debacle has made me a fan of his, especially because he has the rare opportunity to break through the ceiling of NFL contract issues for players. It took a dysfunctional franchise, an underrated quarterback, and a huge free agency market for a franchise signal-caller to create this perfect storm. If players, fans, and the sports media thought Matthew Stafford’s 5-year 135 million dollar contract was pricy, just wait until Kirk Cousins officially hits the open market.
First Thing’s First
The Redskins Will Soon Pass the Browns as the Worst NFL Franchise
For those who actually believe that Alex Smith is better than Kirk Cousins, prepare to eat crow. If Kirk Cousins goes to a team with a lick of offensive talent or a defense to back him up, we will see just how inferior Alex Smith really is. With the cheetah Tyreek Hill, the rookie wonder Kareem Hunt, and the best tight end in football (for my money): Travis Kelce, Alex Smith had a career season:
Alex Smith’s 2017 Stats
- 67.5% Completion
- 4,042 YardsPassing (Career High)
- 26 Touchdowns (Career High) – 5 Interceptions
- 104.7 Passer Rating (Career High)
These are pretty pedestrian career highs for modern franchise quarterbacks, and most avid NFL followers know who Alex Smith really is. Alex Smith is a noodle-armed, mediocre, underachieving, game-managing quarterback who has choked post season after postseason even though he’s had the luck of playing for some of the more talented and well-coached teams throughout the entirety of his career.
As a full-time starter, Kirk Cousins averages:
Kirk Cousins’s Average Season Stats as a Full-Time Starter (Since 2015)
- 67% Completion
- 4,392 Yards Passing
- 27 Touchdowns – 12 Interceptions
- 97.5 Passer Rating
These numbers are arguably better than Alex Smith’s career high stats in 2017, but Kirk Cousins carried this offense with the likes of Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson, Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, and Josh Doctson. Let’s not forget: his best weapon in TE Jordan Reed is only ever healthy half of the time. To really put things in perspective, let’s take a look at Alex Smith’s career season-average stats:
Alex Smith’s Career 16-Game Season-Average
- 62.4% Completion
- 3,270 Yards Passing
- 19 Touchdowns – 10 Interceptions
- 87.5 Passer Rating
Alex Smith’s 16 Games Season-Average with the Chiefs (Since 2013)
- 65.1% Completion
- 3706 Yards Passing
- 21 Touchdowns – 7 Interceptions
- 94.8 Passer Rating
*Green– Designates Higher Number Than Kirk Cousins’s Average Numbers
*Red– Designates Lower Number Than Kirk Cousins’s Average Numbers
Countdown of Kirk Cousin’s Best Landing Spots
7. Cleveland Browns
Oh, Cleveland: the resting place of so many failed quarterbacks’ careers. Kirk Cousins would have to overcome yet another dysfunctional franchise, and the pure stigma of the worst sports franchise on Earth. Even though he’d have young talent around him like Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, David Njoku, Duke Johnson, and a budding defense, Cousins may prove all his doubters right simply by choosing Cleveland as his destination. Money is the only reason Kirk Cousins should ever choose Cleveland. From the Browns’ point of view, this would potentially be a franchise-changing signing. The freedom to use both of their top 5 picks in the upcoming NFL draft on anything but risky quarterback prospects would put the Browns in position to win MUCH sooner than later. *Cough* Saquon Barkley *Cough* Bradley Chubb *Cough* Minkah Fitzpatrick *Cough*
6. Arizona Cardinals
With a retiring quarterback and head coach, the Cardinals have a huge decision to make this offseason. Is it time to rebuild? Or do they believe that they have enough talent to continue to compete? New head coach, Steve Wilks, has emphatically denied a rebuilding effort, but many believe the Cardinals are entering a stage of irrelevancy. When it comes to Kirk Cousins, I’m not sure he would want to walk into an organization with a change in leadership. The offense is also in flux. David Johnson is coming off a major injury, and the grey-bearded Larry Fitzgerald is the only weapon out wide. He’d also be walking into one of the most competitive divisions in football, and a team with barely enough cap space to support a contract similar to Matthew Stafford’s.
5. Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are a strange team right now. Like the Redskins with Cousins, the Bills seem eager to move on from Tyrod Taylor, but the roster is truly the strangest part. The Bills have a talented defense, no question. The offensive talent is odd though: fat Kelvin Benjamin, hurt Jordan Matthews, youngster Zay Jones, the “eh” Charles Clay, a bad offensive line, and a hall of fame running back in Shady McCoy who will be 30 in 2018. Perhaps they can address the offense more with their two first round picks, but is Kirk Cousins eager to leave one unstable offensive roster to another?
The Bills, however, are setting themselves up nicely to truly convert into a West Coast offense. In that case, this offensive personnel fits much better, but new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is not a West Coast-styled coach. Perhaps Kirk Cousins can be the final piece to this offense that propels the Bills into being true AFC contenders, but the fit is surely a question.
4. New York Jets
The New York Jets are intriguing. They have already proclaimed their reverence for Kirk Cousins, and the new offensive coordinator, Jeremy Bates, is directly from the Shanahan coaching tree. HC Todd Bowles has proven he is an effective head coach, and the offensive talent, when healthy, seems on the come up. However, if I were Kirk Cousins, I would demand that the Jets FINALLY invest a first round pick on the offensive side of the ball. A guy like Saquon Barkley somehow falling into their laps (or trading up for) would really boost this franchise, but even a guy like OG Quenton Nelson could really help stabilize the offensive line. Money, good coaching, draft pick currency, and some young talent? Perhaps the New York Jets are the most likely of destinations for Captain Kirk.
3. Denver Broncos
Everyone is raving about the Denver Broncos as Kirk Cousins’s best landing spot this offseason, and I just don’t see it. The defense is still good, but its safe to say that they are on the downward side of their peak. Aqib Talib may already be on his way out of the door, and that may be the only way to create enough cap space to comfortably sign Kirk Cousins. Plus, it’s already been speculated that Cousins would need to take a pay cut to play for Denver in 2018.
What worries me most is the offensive talent. It seems that one of their two wide receivers, Thomas or Sanders, may also be shown the door this offseason, and that would leave the skills positions talent-deficient. Inconsistent running backs. No tight ends. No number 2 wide receiver. The offensive line played better in 2017, but will that trend continue? I’m not so sure, especially because of the presence of the ever-so-overrated John Elway. John Elway has been an utter failure in drafting or otherwise acquiring offensive talent (other than Peyton Manning), and no one should trust him to put the right pieces around Kirk Cousins to maximize his success.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
As a Texans fan, I’m not nearly as terrified as the Jaguars as I was in the middle of the 2017 regular season. The reason? The same reason why the Jaguars are the unlikeliest of any of the teams on this list to sign Kirk Cousins: the Jaguars are stuck with Blake Bortles for at least 2018. The dumpster fire that is Blake Bortles just barely did enough in 2017 to trap the organization into giving him one more “prove it” year. Bortles will ultimately be the reason why the Jaguars are not in the Super Bowl in 2018.
However, Kirk Cousins should be giddy at the idea of playing for this young and talented squad. “Sacksonville” is a beast on its own, but Leonard Fournette would be the best offensive talent that Kirk Cousins has ever had. Add in a good offensive line, and Kirk Cousins could really create a true threat to New England in the AFC. Currently, the Jaguars may barely be able to squeeze Kirk in under the cap, but probably with the loss of Allen Robinson. Perhaps somehow getting Bortles off the books would make the cap more flexable, but this would definitely be an all-in move for Jacksonville.
1. Minnesota Vikings
Nobody is talking about this. Why? I don’t know. Hello? The Minnesota Vikings should be sending blank checks to Kirk Cousins for his services. Screw Case Keenum. Forget Sam Bradford. Don’t trust Teddy Bridgewater and his bum knee. Sign Kirk Cousins, resign Teddy Bridgewater as a Cousins insurance policy, and GO WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS! If I’m Kirk Cousins, I’m writing down “MINNESOTA VIKINGS NO MATTER WHAT” like Kevin Costner did in the movie Draft Day. Just think: the talented Stefon Diggs, white chocolate himself in Adam Theilen, Kyle Rudolph, Dalvin Cook, and a good pass-blocking offensive line. It doesn’t stop there; there would be a considerable amount of spare change under the cap for even more growth. Plus: huge home-field advantage, an indoor stadium, OHHH and an elite defense. For some reason, it seems unlikely to happen, but the Vikings are my favorite destination for Kirk Cousins.