The New York Jets have an opportunity to acquire a franchise quarterback for the first time in what feels like eons given the depth of talent set to come out of the NFL draft this spring and the free-agent market of passers set to be available.
It looks as though the Jets have already locked in on their No. 1 target in Kirk Cousins, the Washington Redskins quarterback who has basically been run out of town by management and head coach Jay Gruden.
Despite putting up three-straight 4,000-yard seasons which rank in the top four of Washington's single-season franchise records list, Cousins did not receive a long-term contract offer from the Redskins. Instead, he was franchise tagged for the past two seasons before the team traded for Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Should the Redskins tag Cousins for a third-straight year, they likely wouldn't have enough space to hold onto Smith after making a deal for him. So it's highly likely that Cousins will, in fact, be a free agent.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, the Jets want Cousins "badly" and are "willing to pay whatever it takes."
After getting rid of sizeable contracts last offseason, the Jets have the funds to win a bidding war for Cousins should it come down to that. Per Spotrac.com, New York has almost $80 million in cap space this year.
While the money won't be a problem, it might take some coaxing to get Cousins to New York given the team's stretch of mediocrity over the past five decades. After a 5-11 season that was actually exceeded expectations, head coach Todd Bowles and Jets management will have to stress building a contender around the 29-year-old. Getting him in green would also make him the face of the franchise, something the Redskins were not willing to do with him despite leading the league in completion percentage in 2015 and receiving a Pro Bowl nod the following year.
Cousins would immediately bring legitimacy to the Jets — considering his last three years would be the top passing seasons in Jets franchise history — in an AFC East division that is up in the air behind the New England Patriots. He'd likely be the second-best quarterback in the division behind Tom Brady and with that, offers the possibility of a renewed rivalry between the Jets and the Patriots should New York be able to supply Cousins with some offensive weapons.