Latest: 4 Kirk Cousins suitors in NFL free agency, ranked by likelihood

NFL free agency officially gets underway next week with the start of the league’s “legal tampering period.”

But as we all know, discussions started in Indianapolis last week during the NFL Scouting Combine.

Perhaps the biggest domino that will fall in the coming days? Kirk Cousins. The veteran quarterback is set to hit free agency, and while there is a path for him to remain a member of the Minnesota Vikings, there are going to be a number of suitors for his services.

Let’s rank the four most likely destinations.

4. Minnesota Vikings

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Graphic design is our passion.

There is a reason that Cousins is largely expected to be playing elsewhere next season.

In fact, there are millions of reasons.

Even with the adjusted salary cap for next season, the Vikings have some difficult decisions ahead of them and not a ton of wiggle room. Minnesota, according to Over the Cap, has around $37 million in cap space for 2024, but with both Cousins and pass rusher Danielle Hunter hitting free agency — and Justin Jefferson perhaps looking for his own new deal — the Vikings have a lot to do, and not a lot of room to maneuver.

While NFL free agency does not begin in earnest until next week, the NFL Scouting Combine is in many ways the unofficial start to that period. Last week in Indianapolis Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell made it seem as if Cousins departure was likely, hinting with Rich Eisen that other teams may have already been in contact with the QB.

“He’s earned the right to be a free agent,” said O’Connell. “I’ve had a blast coaching him … my expectation is we’re not going to be the only ones who want Kirk Cousins to be the quarterback of our team in 2024.”

If this turns into a bidding war, as it looks as it might, other teams will have a stronger hand.

3. Washington Commanders

NFL-Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins

Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Again, graphic design is our passion.

Here is the first of those teams that could have a stronger hand to play.

This would be a true “full-circle” moment for Cousins, who was drafted by Washington in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The Commanders have a ton of cap space at their disposal — over $100 million according to Over the Cap — and can certainly put an impressive offer in front of Cousins.

Given his experience playing in Washington, it could theoretically be a strong offer.

However, Washington does have another option at their disposal: A rookie. After all the Commanders are sitting with the second-overall pick in the draft. Now, they could sign Cousins and then deal out of the No. 2 spot, adding more draft capital and giving themselves a chance to address a number of different needs. Given the number of teams that are looking to add a quarterback — and in this scenario you could potentially add the Vikings to the mix — Washington could get a pretty good trade package for that pick.

Ultimately, it may come down to the preference of both the new ownership group, and Adam Peters, the new GM in Washington. Do they want to put their stamp on the team with a rookie quarterback of their choosing, or go down the veteran road with a known commodity in Cousins, perhaps then trading out of the No. 2 pick and picking up more draft capital along the way?

From where we sit, drafting a rookie seems the more likely option.

2. New England Patriots

However, the team picking behind them is in a similar spot, but could be a more likely option for Cousins.

After all, the Patriots have a ton of cap space — $91 million according to Over the Capand certainly need to address the quarterback position. And while the Commanders have the second-overall pick, with New England sitting third they are likely staring at a decision between QB3 in the draft, the best non-QB prospect on the board, or a trade out of No. 3 having addressed QB in free agency.

Could Cousins be that QB?

You can see how this makes sense for New England, and perhaps a bit more sense for the Patriots than it does the Commanders. Having added Cousins in free agency, the team could then draft their favorite non-QB at No. 3 (perhaps WR Marvin Harrison Jr., or their favorite of the tackle prospects) and suddenly their offense looks a lot different than it did a season ago. Or they then trade the pick, and can still address the offense around Cousins, knowing they at least have the QB position settled for the time being.

It is a viable path for New England, unless they come away from scouting season believing in all three of the top quarterbacks in this draft class.

Or, of course, unless another team beats them to Cousins.

1. Atlanta Falcons

Right now, it seems the NFL South is the most likely destination for Cousins.

Frankly, it makes complete sense.

Last season, the Falcons surrounded the quarterback position with a lot of offensive talent. Rookie running back Bijan Robinson, along with wide receiver Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts, gave Atlanta’s passers some talent to work with.

Yet, Desmond Ridder was eventually benched for Taylor Heinicke, and the team floundered to a third-straight 7-10 finish under Arthur Smith, which cost the head coach his job.

Now, for the third-straight season, the Falcons are sitting with the No. 8 pick in the draft. Given the rumors out of Indianapolis, that might not be enough to draft QB4 in this class, as it seems the idea of four QBs in the early going is building steam.

Atlanta has been mentioned more and more in recent days as a destination for Cousins, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noting on Monday night that he is “picking up very credible indications that Kirk Cousins is planning a potential move of his family from Minnesota to Atlanta.” According to Florio, Atlanta has always been a top destination for Cousins, outside of staying with the Vikings:

The Falcons have always been the top alternative to the Vikings for Cousins, who becomes an unrestricted free agent next Wednesday. And for good reason. His wife, Julie, grew up in nearby Alpharetta, Georgia. Her parents still live there.

Can Atlanta make this work? They have cap space similar to Minnesota — around $37 million — but do not face the same kinds of decisions the Vikings do regarding other free agents. Jonnu Smith and Calais Campbell are perhaps their biggest free agents this season, Pitts is set to hit free agency in 2025, followed by London in 2026 and Robinson in 2027.

And as described by Dianna Russini from the Combine in Indianapolis, the transition to Atlanta would be “seamless” for Cousins and the Falcons:

Over the next month, I’m keeping an eye on the Falcons. They believe Cousins is the type of player who moves them from a fringe playoff team to a contender. New Atlanta head coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Zac Robinson both have familiarity with Cousins. Knowing this could be a seamless transition for Cousins and the talented young group of players across their roster, I expect the Falcons to compete for the rights to his contract. It makes all the sense in the world.

Certainly nothing is official until the ink hits the paper, but right now, Atlanta seems the most likely destination for Cousins.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

AT&T Offers $5 Credit to Customers National Banana Bread Day 2024 Recipes National Margarita Day: Must visit restaurants and bars in Orlando AT&T outage: Everything you need to know about it!! Oppenheimer IMAX 70mm