As the NFL season wears on, it is becoming more and more apparent that this offseason could feature unprecedented levels of player movement at the quarterback position. Although his contract is up at the end of the season, Drew Brees and the Saints organization have given every indication that the future Hall of Famer will not get to free agency.
Assuming that is the case, the best quarterback that could hit the open market is Washington’s Kirk Cousins. His situation is a fascinating one.
Where Washington stands
Earlier this week, reports came out that Redskins management is still not sold on Cousins long term. The 29-year-old is playing under the franchise tag for a second straight year.
Cousins’ two top targets from last year left in free agency. Washington’s top two running backs are on injured reserve. Injuries up front have also forced the Redskins to use numerous offensive line combinations this year.
However, Cousins is third the NFC in passing yards and has thrown 21 touchdowns and just eight interceptions this year. The fact that he does not have this team in the playoff race means he cannot carry a franchise like Tom Brady can, but he is certainly good enough to be a long-term starter somewhere in this league.
Reading between the lines, the former Michigan State standout playing under the franchise tag for a third consecutive year would be unheard of. At the same time, Washington certainly does not seem eager to lock up Cousins.
The Redskins would be foolish to let Cousins walk, but with losses piling up and his supporting cast continuing to disintegrate, it sure looks like that is where things are headed. Then again, coming from an organization that gave $100 million to Albert Haynesworth and hired Jim Zorn and Steve Spurrier as head coaches, should we really be surprised?
Where Denver stands
Enter the Denver Broncos. This is a roster that is still loaded with talent and less than two years removed from winning a Super Bowl on the strength of a dominant defense and a quarterback whose mind was just smart enough to carry his deteriorating body to the ultimate fairytale ending.
Ever since Peyton Manning retired, the Broncos have found themselves in both a familiar situation and an unfamiliar one. John Elway is still the best quarterback in the organization. Unfortunately for Broncos fans, Elway is now the 57-year-old general manager of the team and not the legendary gunslinger.
Prior to this season, Denver had as many Super Bowl appearances as losing seasons since 1991. With the Broncos loss to the Dolphins on Sunday, they now have clinched their fifth losing season since 1991. Quarterback is not the only need for this team right now, but it is by far the biggest.
Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiler have each occupied all three spots on the quarterback depth chart this year. This, along with the fact that Denver has played hot potato with the winless Browns for the worst turnover margin in the NFL all season long, tells you all you need to know about why the Broncos sit at 3-9 right now.
Why Cousins fits in Denver
For a few reasons, Denver is not going to draft a quarterback high in the upcoming draft. The most glaring of which is their remaining schedule. They already have three wins and neither of their last four opponents are above .500.
At the very least, they should stumble into another win or two when playing other bad teams. Barring a trade, the highly-touted incoming rookies will be long gone by the time the Broncos are on the clock. Moreover, if Cousins were to enter the fold in Denver, he would inherit two elite receivers and a top-10 defense.
If Cousins can post numbers anywhere close to what he has this year, the Broncos suddenly look like a very dangerous football team again. This is a team that can be right back in the mix as soon as next year with average to above average quarterback play.
Also, Denver has a fair amount of resources in Lynch and Chad Kelly. Early indications are not good on Lynch, but he has only played in two full NFL games. That is hardly enough to bury his career. Kelly has missed his whole rookie season due to injury. In short, drafting another unproven commodity would only further muddy the water.
Lastly, it is worth keeping in mind that Cousins was drafted to Washington by former Broncos Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan is still very close with fellow Broncos Super Bowl winning head coach Gary Kubiak.
Kubiak was Shanahan’s play-caller in Denver for over a decade and now works with Elway in the front office. These links are tenuous, but could be very relevant.
The bottom line is ever since Elway entered the Broncos front office, he has always had the guts and found the money to make the Broncos as competitive as possible a timely fashion. Cousins is the path that best fits that bill.
Featured image from si.com
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