According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, the New York Jets are looking to upgrade at the quarterback position this off-season, and are targeting Kirk Cousins as the man who can help them make that upgrade the most.
Cousins is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the start of the National Football League’s new year on March 14, assuming the Washington Redskins do not apply the franchise tag to Cousins for the third straight off-season, which would cost them $34 million in 2018 and more.
On March 14, the Redskins will also finally officially acquire quarterback Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs via trade that was agreed to on January 30. Washington sent a 2018 third round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller to acquire Smith, and then, as apart of the trade, Smith was signed to a four-year, $94 million contract extension that includes $71 million guaranteed.
Going back to the whole franchise tag situation with Cousins, it was initially reported that the Redskins could end up tagging Cousins anyway even with Smith on the roster, with the thinking in the Redskins front office that they can tag Cousins and then trade him to recoup some of the assets lost in trading for Smith. However, if Cousins is tagged by the Redskins in this now unlikely scenario, Washington wouldn’t be able to trade Cousins until he would sign the franchise tag tender.
Even if Cousins doesn’t sign the tender, it will still count towards the Redskins salary cap for this free agent class, which would mean that virtually all of their cap space is tied up, and they can’t make any re-signings or additions to their roster. Cousins also reportedly won’t negotiate a contract extension with any team in trade talks, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
So essentially, Cousins will become available for the Jets to sign, and Cimini reports that the Jets will be willing to pay ‘whatever it takes; to gain the services of the 29-year-old quarterback:
It’s simple: Get Cousins. The Jets want him badly, and sources say they’re willing to pay whatever it takes — unless the Washington Redskins decide to tag him for a third time (unlikely). Money aside, the Jets hope to convince him he’ll have a chance to win in New York. Because of obvious deficiencies on the current roster, they must sell him a championship vision. Their recruiting pitch also will stress his familiarity with the offensive system. In addition to making Cousins wildly rich, the Jets want to let him know he’ll be comfortable with the scheme and coaches.
Basically, while the Jets can offer a ton of money Cousins way, the hardest part will be to sell him on the aspect that he can win in New York. Cousins said during interviews at the Super Bowl that winning is his biggest priority, which is why teams like the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings could hold the upper hand in the Cousins sweepstakes.
While the Jets 5-11 season in 2017 was nothing to write home about, it should at least show Cousins that he has a coaching staff and organization that is committed towards competing and trying to win. Many pundits thought that the Jets wouldn’t even win a game last season with one of the worst rosters in the league, but head coach Todd Bowles didn’t let that get in the way.
Cousins compiled 4,093 passing yards in 2017 to go along with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while posting a passer rating of 93.9.
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