Kirk Cousins loses one potential destination with Garoppolo trade, but are Jaguars an option?
One player closely watching the Jimmy Garoppolo trade from afar had to be Washington QB Kirk Cousins. The San Francisco 49ers had been a popular landing spot projected for Cousins, who is set to be a free agent again after this season, but the 49ers’ first choice after trading for Garoppolo clearly is to re-sign and build around him.
Cousins will have options assuming Washington does not invoke its right to clamp him down again with the franchise or transition tag, which could be unwieldy and unwise. So that could be two teams that appear to be eliminated for consideration for Cousins as he eyes his next destination.
Another popular landing spot was with the Los Angeles Rams, but the sudden development of Jared Goff under new head coach Sean McVay — Cousins’ former QB coach — likely takes the Rams out of the equation, too.
Could the Jacksonville Jaguars suddenly be the team that makes the strongest push for Cousins next year? That all will depend on how Blake Bortles plays down the stretch and how far the Jaguars can go this season, we hear, but the Bortles situation appears to be a fait accompli. Even with a few solid games, Bortles doesn’t appear to have earned universal trust with the Jaguars’ brain trust.
It’s entirely possible that Tom Coughlin, Doug Marrone and the rest of Jacksonville brass will decide that a veteran option is the only path to pursue in the offseason. Cousins is by far the most likely and viable of those options in the coming year, it appears, and the 2018 draft class of quarterbacks appears to be a bit overhyped and unclear right now.
If you simply look at how Cousins fared against Coughlin-coached teams, you might not be impressed. In four games against the Giants from 2013 to 2015, Cousins lost three of those and threw eight interceptions and only three TDs passes. But he also improved his completion percentage in each of those games and surpassed the 300-yard mark in the final two matchups.
Additionally, Coughlin had nice things to say about Cousins then.
“I think he’s much more confident,” Coughlin said prior to his final game against Cousins and Washington in 2015. “I think the rhythm with which he goes about his business, particularly in the play-action pass game, is outstanding.”
Marrone never faced Cousins as head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Cousins has faced the Jaguars once in his career, in 2014 — before either Marrone or Coughlin arrived. Cousins completed 22-of-33 passes for 250 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions.
What could matter in the winter and spring is that the Jaguars have a desperation to find a legitimate long-term QB solution and the money with which to do it. Pending what the team does with its expensive defensive line, the Jaguars currently have more than $168 million in contracts on the books for their top 42 players under agreement.
However, that also includes more than $19 million allotted for Bortles, which easily could be scrubbed from the books with no additional hit. Additionally, there are other bloated salaries — Chris Ivory, Allen Hurns, Tashaun Gipson and others — that could come off without much collateral damage. Malik Jackson remains in the team’s plans for now, but he too could be cut at the cost of a mere $6 million in dead money in a move that still could wipe out his $15.5 million salary.
Basically, the Jaguars can go all in on Cousins if they want to, and there now appear to be two fewer legitimate suitors out there. The next question to be answered: Would Cousins come to Jacksonville? That remains to be seen. A deep playoff run, a top-shelf defense, a strong run game and the return of Allen Robinson — not to mention Florida’s zero income tax — all are enticing elements that might convince Cousins to consider heading south next winter.