Kirk Cousins is definitely not the starting quarterback in Washington any longer. His future was the biggest storyline of the 2018 offseason. Now it’s been decided. The Vikings have already come to an agreement with Cousins on a fully guaranteed three-year deal worth about $86 million.
It was settled the moment the team worked out a trade with the Chiefs to bring in Alex Smith. Washington had two choices. It could have let Cousins hit free agency, or it could have used the franchise tag for a third consecutive season to try to get something for him via trade.
Washington made the smart decision and declined to tag him a third time. Cousins will officially hit free agency, which begins on March 14. He’s expected to make the deal with the Vikings official at that point.
The latest Kirk Cousins news and rumors
Cousins is the biggest name on the quarterback market this offseason. The 49ers just shelled out $137.5 million over five years to make Jimmy Garoppolo the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history. Now, Cousins will make more than the $27.5 million per year Garoppolo got.
Earlier this offseason, a report by Peter Schrager suggested that Cousins would seek a shorter deal with more guaranteed money. The idea is to get three to four years of mostly guaranteed money, so he’s able to hit the market again when the price for quarterbacks ultimately goes up again — which is what ended up happening.
Here’s a quick look at all the rumors that followed Cousins this offseason, until free agency began.
Teams that were interested Cousins
Why it makes sense: The Cardinals’ cap situation will make it difficult for them to be serious players in the Cousins sweepstakes. But Carson Palmer retired, and they’ve got no other quarterbacks on the roster.
Why it doesn’t: They only have an estimated $22.4 million in available cap space.
March 12: One reason the Cardinals are still contenders: Cousins’ sister lives in the Phoenix area.
March 3: Adam Schefter reported the Cardinals were one of four finalists for Cousins.
Feb. 26: The Cardinals might want Cousins, but they probably can’t afford him, per Mike Jurecki of Arizona Sports 98.7. They could try to grab a quality starter with the No. 15 pick in the draft or bring in a veteran like Josh McCown as an inexpensive stopgap.
Feb. 2: Larry Fitzgerald deserves to have a good quarterback for what’s probably his final season in the NFL, and he said on the Dan Patrick Show that he’s willing to use his golf connections in Phoenix to make it worth Cousins’ while.
Why it makes sense: They have more money to spend than any other quarterback-needy team, with over $110 million in available cap space.
Why it doesn’t: Cousins wants to win, and Cleveland’s managed to do that just once in the past two seasons.
March 9: The Browns traded for Tyrod Taylor, making it unlikely they’ll go after Cousins.
March 3: Adam Schefter reported four teams were expected to compete for Cousins — the Browns aren’t one of them.
Feb. 15: Left tackle Joe Thomas tried to convince Cousins to give Cleveland a chance.
You could make MORE money and MORE history in Cleveland than anywhere else, by FAR. Don’t just go and be another quarterback somewhere else! https://t.co/tVPqv8pdPB— Joe Thomas (@joethomas73) February 15, 2018
Why it makes sense: The Broncos are the team that’s closest to being just a quarterback away from contention.
Why it doesn’t: Their $25.9 million in available cap space means John Elway would have to make some other moves to be able to pay Cousins.
March 13: The Broncos are signing Case Keenum, and they still may draft a quarterback in the first round, which effectively takes them out of the Cousins sweepstakes.
March 3: The Broncos are one of the finalists in the Cousins sweepstakes, per Adam Schefter.
Feb. 28: The Broncos might not be major players in the Cousins sweepstakes if, like John Elway said at the NFL Combine, they will take a hard look at Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.
Feb. 19: This is more of an educated guess than a rumor, but it makes sense. Peter King of The MMQB believes the Broncos are the most logical landing spot for Cousins because he thinks John Elway will be willing to spend big to have some peace of mind at the quarterback position.
For what it’s worth, NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano says that D.J. Swearinger, Cousins’ teammate in Washington, agrees.
Why it makes sense: The Vikings made the NFC Championship last year, which is a solid selling point. They’ve also got $53.2 million to play with this offseason and they let all three quarterbacks hit free agency.
Why it doesn’t: They could just re-sign Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum, or Sam Bradford.
March 13: Cousins plans to sign a three-year, $86 million deal with the Vikings that is fully guaranteed, according to Adam Schefter.
March 13: Adam Schefter said Cousins is likely to sign with the Vikings, though Cousins’ agent insisted that “no final decisions have been made.”
March 13: Cousins’ first visit will be with the Vikings, who are offering the quarterback a three-year, $86 million deal, according to Ian Rapoport.
March 12: Rapoport says the Vikings are still the favorites, but Cousins will still make other visits before deciding.
March 6: Although the Vikings have not made any offer to Cousins yet, there’s “mutual interest,” according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
March 4: The Jets can outbid the Vikings, but they’re worried that the Vikings will land Cousins anyway because he wants to play in Minnesota, per SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano.
March 3: Adam Schefter said the Vikings were one of the four finalists to land Cousins.
Feb. 26: The Vikings don’t plan to apply the franchise tag to Case Keenum, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Rapoport and his colleague Mike Garafolo both reported that the Vikings are expected to be in on Kirk Cousins once legal tampering begins.
Feb. 16: New offensive coordinator John DiFilippo, who faced Cousins twice in each of his two seasons as the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach, sounded pretty enamored with Cousins in a recent appearance on KFAN in Minneapolis.
New York Jets
Why it makes sense: Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty, and Joel Stave are the quarterbacks on the roster. The Jets aren’t likely to see much improvement in 2018 without an upgrade at that position, and they can afford it.
Why it doesn’t: Cousins may not be thrilled about heading to a team that won just five games last season.
March 4: The Jets are willing to throw a ton of money at Cousins with hefty guarantees built in, but that won’t matter if Cousins just prefers the Vikings. That’s a possibility, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano.
March 3: The Jets are one of the four teams vying for Cousins, according to a report from Adam Schefter.
March 1: Adam Schefter believes that the Jets will be the most aggressive of all teams in signing Cousins.
Feb. 22: The NY Daily News’ Manish Mehta said sources told him the Jets want Cousins and will make a strong push for him, but they won’t just hand him a “blank check” either.
Feb. 20: Brian Costello of the New York Post, explained that the “whatever” in “whatever it takes” could be a five-year, $150 million offer. A source speculated to Costello that the cash flow for Cousins could consist of $60 million in 2018.
Jan. 30: There’s at least one factor working in the Jets’ favor: Kirk Cousins is a big fan of new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. Cousins said as much during an appearance on KFAN during Super Bowl week. Bates would run a system similar to the one Cousins had in Washington, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.