Jacksonville locked up their quarterback situation during the weekend, agreeing to a three-year contract extension with Blake Bortles worth more than $50 million.
That means one less team competing for Kirk Cousins when he likely hits free agency in March.
With the Jaguars out of the picture, what teams are left to pursue Cousins? Let's take a look at the revamped QB market with some analysis below:
- New York Jets - Oddsmakers have installed the Jets as the heavy favorite to land Cousins. Reports out of New York have made clear that the team intends to pursue Cousins, and the Jets have more than $70 million in salary cap space to spend this offseason. New York can afford Cousins and has a need for a QB. The Jets also pick 6th in the NFL Draft, which does mean drafting a new franchise QB remains an option. Status: Favorite
- Cleveland Browns - The Browns have a ton of cap space, more than $100 million, and certainly a need at QB. Cleveland also has the Nos. 1 and 4 pick in the draft, so should new GM John Dorsey decide to draft a passer, the opportunity will be there. The Browns could pay Cousins more than any other team, but also need to completely rebuild their roster. Does spending $30 million or more on Cousins make sense for a team that has won one game in the last two years? Maybe, but it would also likely mean former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan has a change of heart. McCloughan is working with the Browns front office now, and has said repeatedly that a team should not overpay for Cousins. Status: Somewhat possible
- Minnesota Vikings - If the Vikings decide to open up their wallet, Cousins should absolutely listen to the offer. Minnesota has one of the best defenses in the NFL and made the NFC Championship Game in 2017. The Vikings are good, have a ton of weapons on offense, and would be a great fit for Cousins. The problem here is the Vikings first have to decide what to do with Case Keenum, who played at a high level for in Minnesota last season (update: Ian Rapoport says the team intends to let Keenum walk and won't tag him). The Vikings also have a decision to make with former QB Teddy Bridgewater. Minnesota should be Cousins' first choice, but it's not clear if Cousins will be the Vikings first choice. Status: Somewhat possible
- Denver Broncos - Plenty of people want to establish the Broncos as the favorite landing spot for Kirk Cousins. Until Denver makes some moves to clear salary cap space, they aren't. Right now, Denver has about $25 million to spend for the 2018 offseason. Maybe Cousins will take a slight discount to land with John Elway in Denver, but it won't be significant enough for the Broncos to pay him and other free agents without making some major cap space. Also, don't forget the Broncos hold the 5th pick in the NFL Draft. Elway might have his eye on a potential rookie star like Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield, a pair of young passers that would count far less on the salary cap than Cousins. Status: Possible, but need to make cap space
- Arizona Cardinals - Similar to the Broncos, Arizona makes sense for Cousins until you look at the books. The Cardinals actually have less money available under the cap than the Broncos do. The team could always clear space, and with the 15th pick, it seems unlikely Steve Keim and the Cards brass are counting on one of the top rookie QBs in the draft. Status: Possible, but need to make cap space
- Buffalo Bills - The Bills want better QB play than they've been getting from Tyrod Taylor. That became clear in 2017 when they benched Taylor for Nathan Peterman, who was terrible. What makes this hard to figure out is Taylor is still under contract in 2018, and at a reasonable $11 million salary. Taylor guided the Bills to the playoffs in 2017. Would Buffalo be better off paying Cousins $30 million than it is paying Taylor a third of that? Those are decisions for the Bills brass. Buffalo also has two 1st-round draft picks, the 21st and 22nd picks, and could be looking to make a move in the draft to acquire a rookie passer. Status: Somewhat possible
- Miami Dolphins - They might need better QB play in South Beach, but the Dolphins have no cap space. Could Miami dump Ndamukong Suh ($26M) and Ryan Tannehill ($19M) to free up cash? Sure. Plus trading away Jarvis Landry ($16M)? Sure. But that's a lot of moves to be made. Status: Longshot
- New York Giants - Eli Manning is 37 years old and will cost $22 million in 2018. That's not a good equation. New Giants GM Dave Gettleman seems committed to Manning at least for 2018, and New York has the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 Draft. Big Blue can draft a new franchise passer should they choose to. This just doesn't make sense. Status: Very longshot
The Redskins decided to move on from Cousins and traded for Alex Smith. Reports of Washington's contract extension with Smith seem like good value for both sides. Smith will get guaranteed money of at least $50 million and Washington gets a Top 10 QB for less than $25 million per season.
Jacksonville's decision to extend Bortles leaves some interesting questions. Since becoming a starter in 2015, Cousins has been undeniably better than Bortles. It's also obvious than Cousins will cost much more than Bortles on the free agent market. Maybe Jacksonville decided the team would be better off with Bortles at $20 million per year than Cousins at $30 million year.
If that's the case, and it seems like it was in D.C., might other teams think the same thing?
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