JETS OFFSEASON SIGNINGS
Michael Salfino, writer for the Meadowlands Media Group, weighed in on the possibility of Kirk Cousins going to the Jets. The original tweet and cap space argument:
This is fun to think about as a Jets fan, given the possibility of having a decent quarterback like Cousins, coming to the Jets. Does it really make sense? Let’s look at whether the Jets should try to sign Kirk Cousins in March. We can look at which positions the Jets should address in free agency with the amount of cap space they possess.
Kirk Cousins brings a skill set and talent to a team that lacks overall talent, and a consistently good quarterback. In 2016, he was third in passing yards and yards per game. Cousins was in the top-ten completion percentage, passer rating, and QBR. He also led the Redskins to four 4th quarter comebacks, which was tied fourth in the league. This season, he has continued putting up similar numbers. Cousins is fourth in completion percentage, yards per attempt, as well as third in total QBR. He is in the top ten of nearly every quarterback statistic in the NFL. All of the rankings and stats previously mentioned are brought to you via Pro Football Reference.
The Redskins have had a disappointing record of 3-4 so far this season. The disappointment cannot be blamed on Cousins. He has played well this season, and the offense has put up good numbers. They are 12th in terms of offensive points per game, and are 17th in rushing yards per game this season. Combining these statistics draws the conclusion that the Redskins are in the top half of the league in offense. The defense, however, is 28th points per game, despite ranking 12th in yards surrendered per game. The defense, or lack of defense, has been the Achilles heel of this Redskins team, not a lack of offense.
Cousins turned 29 this past August, which would make him 30 years old to start next season. That is not a haunting age, but the Jets may not be contending for another two or three years. This would put Cousins at 32 or 33 when Gang Green hits their stride. That is the same age as Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Alex Smith this season. Can Cousins turn into an undisputed elite quarterback by then? Sure, but the upcoming quarterback class is strong. The Jets should have a good pick in this upcoming draft, as I pointed out in my previous article.
Cousins would also cost a pretty penny, probably demanding upwards of $18 million per year, and a five-to-six year contract. This demand could block signings to fill in other positions, such as improvement of the offensive line, defensive tackle and cornerback. These positions can be filled in this offseason via free agency. With drafting a quarterback in the first round, it would only take up about $7-$9 million a year of cap space, half of what Cousins would cost. These are based on projections that the Jets finish between the fifth and tenth pick.
Uses with the Cap Space: Cornerback
At cornerback, Trumaine Johnson, Vontae Davis and Malcolm Butler are future free agents. All are top 20 cornerbacks, and can fill in needed roles for the rebuilding New York Jets franchise. Morris Claiborne, the Jets current number one cornerback, has played beyond expectations thus far. Another top 20 cornerback can be afforded by the Jets’ cap space this offseason, even after resigning Claiborne, who is a free agent in the spring of 2018. If the struggling Muhammad Wilkerson is cut, this will free up $11 million in cap space for next season, as described in Salfino’s thread of tweets.
At offensive line, John Greco, Nate Solder, Trai Turner, Luke Joeckel and several more suitable linemen, are on the free agent market this season. I would expect the Jets to sign one or two offensive linemen in the upcoming offseason. Thankfully, Gang Green can afford to shell out a bit of cash for the line, given the enormous cap space they have created.
At defensive tackle, the talented Dontari Poe is up for grabs, but may cost too much. At the age of 27, he is hitting his prime at defensive tackle, which makes Poe an intriging option at defensive tackle, to take over the aging Steve McLendon. Bennie Logan and Jared Crick are all younger, but established, defensive tackles or nose tackles, who will cost less than Poe. Crick has less talent than both Logan and Poe, but Crick can serve as an effective, somewhat young defensive lineman.
Where Cousins May Go
Although Kirk Cousins has undeniable talent, he may not fit this Jets team right now. He could land a role with another team, one who may not have a top ten pick in this year’s draft. I would look out for the Jaguars, Saints or Cardinals to pursue Cousins as well. The Saints and Cardinals have aging quarterbacks, and Drew Brees is a free agent this offseason. Cousins would be an upgrade over the inconsistent Blake Bortles, and would create a bigger threat to defenses than Bortles. The receiving core of Robinson, Hurns and Lee resembles that of the core Cousins had last year with the Redskins.
Kirk Cousins may be the most intriguing free agent this offseason, and will be a story to track. Stay tuned for more free agent rumors in the second week of February.