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Kirk Cousins faces the biggest decision of his NFL career as he prepares to hit the free-agent market.
After two years of playing under the franchise tag at the Washington Redskins, the 30-year-old‘s time with the NFC East outfit appears to be at an end.
The Redskins have acquired Alex Smith in a trade deal from the Kansas City Chiefs to replace Cousins, leaving the quarterback to pursue an offer in free agency.
Cousins has impressed for Jay Gruden’s men, throwing for almost 5,000 yards in the 2016 season. He has notched 52 touchdowns to 25 interceptions over the past two campaigns. Although his performances were solid, they were not enough to guide the Redskins into the post-season.
There a number of teams courting his signature ahead of the official start of the new league campaign due to his success since replacing Robert Griffin III.
We’ll now breakdown the four favourites and assess where the best place for Cousins would be to play for the foreseeable future.
The Vikings are the leading contenders for his signature due to their success last season. Minnesota reached the NFC Championship game before being beaten by the Philadelphia Eagles on the road. Mike Zimmer’s men were down to their third-string quarterback Case Keenum for the majority of the campaign. And although he performed well, the Vikings are eyeing an upgrade, with all three of their quarterbacks becoming available on the free-agent market.
Cousins would fit seamlessly into the offense, boasting two quality wide receivers at the peak of their powers. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs produced high levels of play even without elite play from the quarterback position. With Cousins in place, all three parties could put up lofty numbers. That’s without mentioning tight end Kyle Rudolph and running back Dalvin Cook although the latter is returning from an ACL injury.
The 30-year-old would also be playing with an elite defense. The Vikings were ranked in the top three in almost every category last season. They have All-Pro players at each level of the unit, and should they play to form they will continue to dominate. Zimmer’s men reached the NFC Championship game without a quality quarterback, with Cousins in place they could reach the Super Bowl. Back Cousins to be the week one starter for the Vikings at -230 with Bovada sportsbook.
The Broncos lured the last major quarterback on the free-agent market to Colorado. General manager John Elway convinced Peyton Manning to join the club, which yielded a hugely successful four-year period. Denver won Super Bowl 50, defeating the Carolina Panthers to win their third Vince Lombardi trophy. They also reached the Super Bowl in the 2013 campaign on the back off a record-breaking offense, with Manning throwing 55 touchdowns. Elway will be looking to achieve the same feat by attracting Cousins to the Broncos, albeit not quite to the level that the future Hall of Famer achieved in his tenure.
Unfortunately for the Broncos they cannot offer the same elite level of defense that guided them to the Super Bowl in the 2015 campaign. They’re a team on the wane, with a number of the players on the title-winning side, having already left the club. Von Miller and Chris Harris remain on the defense and are elite competitors.
However, the offense has been a mess over the past three terms, even when Denver won the crown with Manning. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have struggled for their best form over the last two years and are not the players they were with Manning at quarterback. It would take something special for the Broncos to lure him in, but Elway does have a way with words. A punt at odds of +400 with Bovada could be worth a shot.
The Jets have not had a great deal of luck in the quarterback department. Since the days of Joe Namath and their win in Super Bowl III, New York have not found an answer at the position. Chad Pennington had some success, guiding the Jets to their only AFC East division crown of the millennium in 2002. However, his injury problems loomed large and prevented him from reaching his potential. Since then players such as Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith have been busts, leaving the Jets’ fanbase desperate for quality play at the quarterback position.
Cousins would be the best player to call plays for the Jets since Namath, arguably boasting a better arm than the Hall of Famer. However, as in the case of the Broncos, there’s not a lot of talent around him to thrive for Todd Bowles’ men. Robby Anderson had a breakout term in 2017, although his off-the-field issues could see a suspension coming his way in the near future. Jermaine Kearse has been productive in his career with the Seattle Seahawks and made plays last term. Other than that Cousins would be best suited elsewhere as the once talented Jets’ defense has lost a lot of quality. It would take a lot of money for the 30-year-old to land in New York at odds of +300 with Bovada.
The Cardinals would be the outlier, having lost Carson Palmer to retirement. Arizona have enjoyed success of late, reaching the NFC Championship game in the 2015 campaign. The club have taken a step back over the last two seasons, falling out of contention. Arizona have a new head coach in place in Steve Wilks, who replaced Bruce Arians following his retirement. Had Arians remained with the NFC West outfit, Cousins may have been tempted due to coach’s success developing quarterbacks. The Cardinals do not have a great deal of cap space and may have to make room to accommodate the signing of the 30-year-old.
Talent wise they’re probably behind only the Vikings for the quality of their roster. Larry Fitzgerald leads the receiving corps, and although he’s in the twilight of his career, the 34-year-old is still a formidable offensive weapon. Running back David Johnson is in the prime of his career and offers a threat rushing the ball as well as a pass-catching option. He’s arguably the best back in the NFL, although he missed the majority of the 2017 season. On defense Chandler Jones led the league in sacks last term, while Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu form a potent secondary. It might take a lot for him to get there, but +1500 with Bovada is good value for a bet.
Kirk Cousins To Be Minnesota Vikings Starter 2018 Season
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