Posted on February 4, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine

Washington Redskins Kirk Cousins

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We’re still more than a month away from when the Kansas City Chiefs can officially trade Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins. For Kirk Cousins, his days of being Washington’s starting quarterback are finished. But at the same time, a whole new world is about to open up to him. Cousins will undoubtedly be the most sought-after quarterback on the free agent market this summer. As a result, he’s preparing for the hoard of suitors likely to express interest in signing him.

“I’m going to keep my eyes and ears open to anything and open,” Cousins said Friday. “I’m in the information-gathering stage at this point. I would hope any team is interested.”

Early in the process, the Jets and Broncos have emerged as the favorites to land Cousins. Meanwhile, it’s been reported that the Vikings may be at the top of Cousins’ wish list. Of course, Minnesota has a complicated quarterback situation to sort out before they consider adding Cousins. The Bills, Browns, and Cardinals are also considered teams that will likely have interest in him.

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When Cousins eventually hits the open market, there’s a chance he will become the game’s highest-paid player. He’s obviously far from the league’s best player. But with such a high demand for quarterbacks, Cousins is likely to break the bank, especially since so few viable starting quarterbacks ever reach the open market. However, Cousins has indicated that money won’t be the factor that helps him to make up his mind.

“At the end of the day, I want to win,” Cousins said Friday. “I was talking with Coach (Charlie) Weis earlier and he made it clear, ‘Hey, go where you can win.’ That’s exactly what the plan is.”

If winning is a top priority, it’s no wonder that the Vikings are at the top of his list. Of course, teams like the Bills, Broncos, Cardinals, and Jets could all become instant contenders if they find the right quarterback. There’s a chance that Cousins could be the quarterback that’s missing for each of those teams, putting them all on level footing.

However, there are rumblings that the Redskins could still place the franchise tag on Cousins, doing so for the third consecutive year. Franchising Coucins would cost Washington $34.5 million. But it would also allow them to trade Cousins and get something substantial back for him. The Redskins would also have more control over where Cousins ends up. Thus, they could block him from staying in the NFC. Of course, there are ways Cousins could resist the move by waiting to sign the franchise tag or refusing to report to camp if he’s traded somewhere he doesn’t want to go.

At this point, there’s no guarantee that the Redskins use the franchise tag on Cousins. It still appears more likely that he hits the open market. Even if that ends up being the case, it’s still too early to predict where he’ll end up. But if Cousins is valuing the chance to win as much as money, we have some clarity on what teams he’d prefer to sign with this summer.

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