Kirk Cousins ​​is just over a month away from showing us what can happen when a healthy front-line quarterback, at his best, reaches the free agency market. It will be something unprecedented. In the era of franchise player etiquette, only two front-line players have become free agents – Peyton Manning in 2012 and Drew Brees in 2006 – and both came from a major injury at the time.
Cousins ​​is 29 years old, healthy, and comes from his third season of 4,000 passing yards in a row at a time of rapid growth for the salary cap. When it arrives on March 12, when agents for outstanding free agents can start talking to other teams, Cousins ​​will be in a position to impose a new standard on the top of the NFL’s salary structure.
Now, as I know some of you will ask: No, I do not think there is a possibility that the Washington Redskins will designate Cousins ​​franchise player for the third year in a row. It is certainly true that it has been considered to label it and try to exchange it in an effort to avoid losing it without anything in return. And in this stage of the process, it is the position that they must assume towards the outside, simply in case some team wishes to offer something outlandish. But I, and the sources with which I have talked about the subject, consider that a third franchise tag for Cousins ​​(which would cost Washington about 34.5 million dollars) is a result completely out of reality.
Why? Well, any team willing to give something of importance to Cousins ​​will want to know if they can sign it in the long term, and by how much. Washington would probably end up with a third-round compensatory selection if it lets Cousins ​​walk, which means that some team will probably need to offer a second-round pick to get it, and why would a team do that if all that’s guaranteed is a season? for 34.5 million dollars?

If Washington labels Cousins, he will probably rush to sign the offer to put the team in an impossible position. Those $ 34.5 million would immediately hit the Washington salary cap for 2018 along with the $ 24 million Alex Smith costs under the payroll limit, probably forcing unwanted cuts elsewhere and basically making it impossible for the team to do anything more in terms of acquisition of players until Cousins is transferred.

Theoretically, Cousins ​​could make things much easier for Washington by negotiating long-term deals with potential exchange partners before the transfer is finalized, but there is no reason to believe that Cousins ​​is or will be interested in doing favors. If Washington decided to label Cousins, the most likely reason would be that he repented of the agreement for Smith and decided to back down before finalizing it. As of Tuesday night, we call this “Making a McDaniels.” I do not say what will happen, but if on Tuesday night he taught us anything, nothing is guaranteed until the end.
What Cousins ​​wants – and he believes he deserves – is the opportunity to reach the open market without limitations, with a menu of potential destinations to choose from. It seems a certainty that you will get that, and when it does, your contract could average 30 million dollars or more per campaign with more than 90 million dollars in guarantees. The questions then will be how many teams will bid as high and how much do you like the idea of ​​playing for any of them.
The Minnesota Vikings, who come from a 13-3 campaign with their three in-office quarterbacks eligible for free agency, should be at the top of the Cousins ​​wish list. They have the space under the salary cap to make it happen. They have an elite defense, front-line receivers, a solid ground attack and an offensive line that – although it might need some maintenance in the following years – did a great job to keep Case Keenum clean in 2017. Questioning with the Vikings is how committed they are to developing Teddy Bridgewater as their long-term solution and rewarding Keenum for what it did in 2017. If they retain one or both pins, Cousins ​​is probably discarded. But if they consider a Cousins ​​away from the Super Bowl, they could change the plan and take a chance.
The New York Jets also have space under the salary cap and need. His squad requires more work than Minnesota, but the receivers showed promise this campaign, the coach has just received an extension, and Cousins ​​has spoken good things about the new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. Perhaps it catches your attention to make noise in the Big Apple.

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