As we are sitting here in late February, all of the decision makers for the Jets have had March 12, 2018, circled on their calendars for quite some time. That is the date that teams can start to negotiate with pending free agents from opposing teams. That is the date the Jets can go get their starting quarterback in soon-to-be former Redskins signal-caller Kirk Cousins.
Amazingly enough, we have already heard through numerous leaks from Florham Park that the Jets are highly interested in Cousins, which makes no sense to me. The Jets are joined by the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns amongst others that have interest in the former Michigan State star. Why the decision makers with the Jets would let it be so publicly known for their interest in Cousins is beyond me. The only rational reason that would make any sort of sense would be trying to scare off other suitors. But, I would have to imagine that if you are looking to find an instant starter, especially at the most important position, you will do your due diligence regardless of what you read online.
The Jets have plenty of money to spend this offseason. It is estimated that they will have anywhere from $84-90 million dollars in salary cap space. They are coming off a season in which they actually surprised people, including myself, by going 5-11 during the regular season. Before their final game, the organization made the correct decision by giving GM Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles two-year contract extensions. Both men are now signed through the 2020 season.
As last season was about effort and development, 2018 will be about wins and losses. The one-year grace period is over and if the Jets want to take a step forward as a franchise they need to get better play from their quarterback position. With all due respect to Josh McCown, he is a great leader and will be a coach down the line, he is not a difference maker and that is coming off a season in which he threw 18 touchdowns and completed over 67-percent of his passes. But now the question remains, how much is too much for Kirk Cousins?
What does “whatever it takes” really mean? Would I give Kirk Cousins a one-year $60 million dollar contract full guaranteed to get his name on the dotted line? To answer that question, I think you have to be realistic about what Cousins is as a quarterback. Since 2015, he is top-10 in yards, completion percentage, passing touchdowns and yards per game. During that span, Washington had a combined record of 24-23-1 and made the playoffs on one occasion when they won the NFC East in 2015. Stats tell you some things, they just don’t tell you everything about a player. For Cousins, that rings true.
I do agree with formers Redskins GM Scot McCloughan when he said he does not think Cousins is “special.” I think he is really good, just not special. Would he be an upgrade for the Jets, well there is no question about that. If I were Todd Bowles, I would certainly want Cousins to be my signal caller if I am looking to win in 2018. I just think you need to be realistic about what type of player he is even with the unrealistic contract. He is going to be paid like a top-five franchise quarterback even though that is not the talent he has. If you take the money out of the equation, then you will be happy with the production from Cousins for the next five years. You just have to know what Cousins is and what he is not. Even with the pressure that comes with a big-money contract, I do believe he will handle that in stride. I think getting away from the dysfunction that is the Washington Redskins will be an added bonus for Cousins as well.
Kirk Cousins is sitting in the catbird seat of being probably the most-talented free-agent quarterback to hit the open market in his prime. The Jets are starving for relevancy. They should do whatever it takes to get him, but they should know what Kirk Cousins is and what he is not. He is really good, he just may not be special. It’s ok because the Jets would certainly like Cousins yelling ‘you like that’ wearing the green and white. Now the Jets have to hope that Cousins feels the same way about them as they do about him.