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Backup quarterbacks don’t tend to make headlines in the NFL, particularly in the offseason, but that’s just what Kirk Cousins, the Washington Redskins’ number two, could do over the next few months. The former Michigan State QB has impressed when he’s been called upon in his first two years in the league, and is now reportedly open to being traded, with Washington confirming that Robert Griffin III is their starter. The announcement was hardly surprising given the treasure haul of draft picks Washington had to give up to get RG3 in the first place, but with concerns still being raised as to whether he can be the same player he was prior to the knee surgery, Washington will not be overly keen to let Cousins leave. This means that any team eying up Cousins will have to pay quite a premium for his services, and it would be a real surprise to see him leave the nation’s capital for anything less than a late second/early-mid third-round pick.
New Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, who was Cousins’ former coordinator in Washington, has already publicly praised the 25-year-old, leading to a plethora of rumors that the Browns might be interested in trading for the QB. Putting aside Shanahan’s links to Cousins, Cleveland have the fourth pick in the draft, giving them a real chance to snag a blue-chip prospect like Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) or Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), and it’s difficult to see them willing to give up too much to bring in Cousins, especially when there are other areas of their roster in need of significant investment. It’s almost an identical story for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have the third pick in the draft, which effectively also removes them from the Cousins sweepstakes.
The Houston Texans are not a crazy fit for Cousins, and by securing a QB in this fashion, it would likely erase any doubts they may have about taking Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina) with the first pick in the 2014 draft. The Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New York Jets are all potential landing spots, as they struggle to work out whether or not their young QBs are the answer, whilst the Minnesota Vikings are a team with a real need if they don’t like the value of Blake Bortles (UCF) when they’re on the clock with the eighth pick. The oft-injured Jake Locker, and playoff-challenged Andy Dalton, make the Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals intriguing options, although neither franchise seems willing to call time on their current incumbents at this moment.
Another consideration is the 2014 free agent class of quarterbacks. It is far from stellar, but in Michael Vick and Josh Freeman, there are two potential starting QBs available. In the right scheme, both players have the ability to be starters, and could take two of the aforementioned teams out of the running for Cousins. With cap concerns, the Texans probably can’t offer Vick or Freeman the contracts they would be looking for, meaning a move for Cousins seems an increasingly savvy move for the Houston front office.
Cousins may not be the long-term answer in Houston, but certainly neither are Matt Schaub, T. J. Yates, or Case Keenum, and their third-round pick, possibly packaged with a sixth or seventh-round pick also, could be enough to get Washington to trade. New Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien has a good history getting the most of his QBs, and it would be interesting to see how high he could push Cousins’ ceiling, especially in an offense which has the talent to succeed.
Trade rumors so often peter out into nothing, and odds are those surrounding Cousins do exactly the same this offseason, but no doubt the story will linger for some time. With a decent crop of rookie quarterbacks coming into the league this year, an even better crop potentially next season, and two potential starters hitting free agency, it’s certainly a buyer’s market in the current NFL, and with Washington presumably not open to letting Cousins leave in a cut-price deal, do not be surprised to see him on the Redskins’ bench again next season.
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