For a quarterback that doesn’t want to be traded and a team that doesn’t want to trade him, the talk of the Washington Redskins shipping off Kirk Cousins won’t seem to go away.
The Redskins reportedly turned down three trade inquiries for their franchise-tagged quarterback over the past 10 days or so. None were named, though the Cleveland Browns were said to not be among them.
So who were these three teams?
There are plenty of teams in the league with the need and the resources to pull off such a move, so let’s explore the likelihood that they attempted to entice the Redskins to part with Cousins.
San Francisco 49ers
Let’s get this out of the way first: if you had to bet your life savings on one team asking about Cousins, it’s the 49ers.
They’ve long been known to be interested in him, and the feeling is mutual, with Cousins reportedly telling Washington that the 49ers are the only team he’d want to be traded to.
The connection with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was Cousins’ offensive coordinator in Washington for two seasons, is likely one of the big draws, as is their ability to pay him like an elite quarterback, thanks to a huge amount of cap space.
Likelihood: 99 percent
The Bears got their quarterback in the form of free agent Mike Glennon, but the inquiries apparently happened as far back as 10 days ago – before the start of free agency – so it’s more than possible Chicago was one of the three teams.
Head coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace are under increasing pressure to build a winning team, and they could have viewed Cousins as a potential Hail Mary to save their jobs.
The Bears were reportedly interested in acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots, so it’s logical that they got a feel for the market by asking what it would take to snag Cousins.
Likelihood: 80 percent
The Bills temporarily repaired their relationship with quarterback Tyrod Taylor by restructuring his deal and buying time to figure out if he’s a franchise-level player, but there must have been a window where Buffalo looked at other options.
While the Bills don’t have the cap space of the Bears of the 49ers, they have more than enough to figure out a deal with Cousins, especially if they opted to cut Taylor.
Buffalo does only have six draft picks this year, and only three in the first 138 selections (10th overall, 44th overall, and 75th overall). So unless the Bills were willing to either hand over their entire 2017 draft class or give a ton of future picks (not unthinkable for the poorly run franchise), they are more of a long shot than a lock.
Likelihood: 50 percent
New York Jets
The Jets aren’t close to being a contender, but when has that ever stopped them from making an ill-advised, league-altering move?
New York definitely has the need, maybe more so than any other team. Bryce Petty looked serviceable at times last season, but their supposed quarterback of the future, Christian Hackenberg, apparently looked so bad in practice that the Jets sat him for his whole rookie year despite it clearly being a lost season.
The fact that the Jets are clearly in intent on rebuilding, having recently cut several big-name veterans, is the main thing that drags their odds down.
Likelihood: 40 percent
It’s widely accepted that the Texans are a quarterback away from being a contender, and regardless of how good you think Cousins actually is, he’s proven capable of consistently leading a talented team to wins.
The problem is that to get Brock Osweiler off its books, Houston had to send a second-round pick to Cleveland, and that move would still likely have to happen to fit Cousins under the salary cap, even with an extension that reduced his tag number. Plus, after both trades, Houston would likely only be left with a handful of picks in 2017 and 2018.
The Texans could have explored their options, but they probably didn’t need to call the Redskins to know the price was too high for them.
Likelihood: 25 percent
In public, the Jaguars are still supporting Blake Bortles as their starting quarterback. Secretly, however, they must know he isn’t the future of the franchise, so it’s not far-fetched to suggest Jacksonville was curious about the Redskins’ price.
Cousins might only have his eyes on a reunion with Shanahan in San Francisco, but the Jaguars possesses the ability to pay him as well as a roster primed to make the jump to a contender.
If the last few free-agency periods have taught us anything, it’s that the Jaguars can’t help but make huge moves, hoping it’ll be the one to finally bring them back to relevance.
Likelihood: 15 percent
Los Angeles Chargers
We know, we know. Philip Rivers. The Chargers’ long-suffering quarterback is still playing at a high level, but at 35 years old, Los Angeles has to start looking to the future at some point.
The Chargers could see Cousins as their starter for the next 10 years, and it would be the type of move that would capture much-needed headlines ahead of their first year in L.A.
Rivers would definitely be snapped up via trade by a contender, allowing the Chargers to recoup the assets they would need to send the Redskins to land Cousins. It’s improbable, but not impossible.
Likelihood: 5 percent
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