The Denver Broncos were one of the biggest disappointments of the 2017-18 NFL season. And the main reason why Denver went from Super Bowl hopefuls to a 5-11 record is because they had no quarterback consistency. But general manager John Elway thinks that Kirk Cousins could help solve this problem.
According to Yahoo Sports, the Broncos see Cousins as an “all-in” target when free agency kicks off on March 14. Cousins had three strong seasons in a row as a full-time starter for the Washington Redskins. And he would be a huge upgrade over the team’s QB options last year.
Roadblocks to Denver Landing Kirk Cousins
Signing Cousins isn’t going to be cheap. And the Broncos don’t have an abundance of salary cap room at this time. But sources told Yahoo Sports that the team is currently looking at scenarios to free up between “$40 million and $50 million” in cap space before the offseason.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll sign Cousins even if they have the available money. Multiple factors will come into play on both sides, including how many years the contract will be, guaranteed money, and how successful the team could be in the future.
It’s possible that Cousins meets with the team and decides that he doesn’t think they have a chance to win in the immediate future. Or he could simply not like the organization from an overall standpoint.
On Denver’s side, they may not want to commit significant guaranteed money if they can find a solid, cheaper QB prospect.
Competition for Cousins is Intense
Denver is far from the only team in the hunt for this star QB. The Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, and Cleveland Browns are all reportedly interested in Cousins.
Each of these teams may have to deal with the fact that Cousins will want a different deal from the average long-term QB contract, which is 7 years with optional years from seasons 5-7.
His contract might be a 3-year or 4-year deal, with salaries that are nearly guaranteed each season. Such a deal would favor Cousins, because he’d get plenty of money and the chance to revisit the negotiating table before he turns 33 years old.
Many teams like the common 7-year deal for franchise quarterbacks, because they can better control the fifth, sixth and seventh years. That said, one or more of the aforementioned teams may ultimately decide that they don’t want to engage in a 3 or 4-year contract.
Signing Cousins will Take Away from Other Team Needs
“Part of the reason we’ve been winning games and staying in games is because we’ve been playing good on defense and we’ve been a smart team and all those things,” Zimmer explained.
“I want to be really careful about taking away from our strength and saying, ‘OK, we’re not going to be able to do this and we’re not going to be able to do that anymore because of financial reasons or something else.”
Of course, Zimmer of may change his mind when he and the team eventually meet with Cousins in free agency.
Speaking of which, teams will be able to officially exchange contract figures on March 12, just before the free agency period officially starts. Cousins is expected to earn a lucrative deal and will compare offers from different teams.
Cousins Free Agency is Reminiscent of Peyton Manning
Back in the 2012 off-season, Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning was highly sought after by multiple teams. He met with different franchises before deciding on the Broncos. It would be like deja vu if Cousins did the same and also settled in Denver.
On Cousins side, he’ll not only want a big deal – which is almost guaranteed after three straight years of 4,000+ passing yards – but he’ll also want to play for a winner.
Cousins and the Redskins had some solid years together. But the roster around him was never good enough to make a serious run in the playoffs.
The Browns and Jets probably won’t offer an immediate chance to win. Denver has pieces in place to be a winner, but they’re also coming off a poor 2017 campaign. Minnesota made the NFC championship last season. But as Zimmer noted, they may not want to mess with their formula too much.
In summary, there are still plenty of questions before we find out what uniform Kirk Cousins will be wearing next season.