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Determining the best fit for Kirk Cousins in free agency with blind resumes

It’s March, so let’s evaluate his options in the most appropriate way possible.

Kirk Cousins reportedly has four teams that are in the sweepstakes to sign him and make him their franchise quarterback. Those teams are the Cardinals, Vikings, Broncos, and Jets.

Many people will make cases for each team in terms of their best fit. Similar to an NCAA Tournament blind resume comparison, we wanted to look at what each team provides, and select the best fit for Cousins. After all, he said he was willing to take less money because he wants to win.

In no order, here are blind resumes for each of the four teams, and we’ll determine who is the best fit based strictly on what each roster presents.

Team 1

Offensive resume

Weapons

  • This team’s best offensive weapon is a five-time Pro Bowler, but missed out last season because of a serious lack of a quarterback.
  • Their WR2 has also made two Pro Bowls, with his most recent coming in 2016.
  • Their running back had his first 1,000-yard season in 2017, but it was also his first season starting all 16 games where he previously split the majority of carries.

Offensive line

  • They’ll also be looking to improve at right tackle this offseason, after injuries plagued the position.
  • Left guard was also a bit of a roller coaster for them, and a rookie had his good and bad spots at left tackle.
  • Gave up 52 sacks — tied for third most in the NFL.

Quarterback situation

  • Team 1 started three quarterbacks during the season, with one getting the majority at 10.
  • The other two received four and two starts respectively.

Key players: Five-time Pro Bowl WR1, two-time Pro Bowl WR2, 1,000-yard rushing RB, LT,

Defensive resume

  • They were third in the NFL in total defense last season, giving up just 290 yards per game.
  • They’re known most for their impressive defensive backfield, but also have one of the game’s best pass rushers — a three-time All-Pro.
  • There’s really no weak spots on this side of the football, and with a good quarterback last year, would have easily been in the postseason.

Key players: Three-time All-Pro pass rusher, All-Pro CB

What the team is saying

Their president of football operations and general manager said about whether or not there was a decision on getting a quarterback through free agency or the draft:

“No. That will come. I think we’re going to explore all options in free agency and see where that goes. Obviously we’ve got the fifth pick in the draft, too. That will all play into it. We’ll continue to look at all of the options out there when it comes to quarterback.”

Do they have the cap space to sign him right now?: No, but it can be done.

Team 2

Offensive resume

Weapons

  • Nearly had a pair of 1,000-yard receivers. One finished with 941 yards, and the other, 810.
  • Young, talented tight end who hasn’t quite reached his full potential. Had 357 yards and three touchdowns last season on 50 receptions.
  • Will return a back who had 772 yards and five touchdowns on 178 carries. Had a veteran back retire in the offseason.

Offensive line

  • Battled injuries along the front all season. Was not the worst in the NFL but it was a troubled area.
  • Gave up 47 sacks — tied for 7th most in the NFL.
  • Center is slated to be a free agent.
  • Fired offensive line coach this offseason.

Quarterback situation

  • Started two players at quarterback, with one having a career-year in 13 starts before falling to injury
  • 2017 starter will be a free agent.
  • None of the backups — both young — have shown any kind of promise.

Key players: Young WR1 with upside, solid WR2

Defensive resume

  • 24th in the NFL in total defense in 2017
  • Losing best defensive end to free agency.
  • Have promising young talent in the defensive backfield, but there’s plenty of work to be done as a complete unit.

Key players: SS, FS

What the team is saying

At the NFL Combine, Team 2’s GM told reporters of their quarterback situation:

Obviously, we have the two young kids under contract. [redacted] is a free agent. We’re going to approach that position just like every other position via pro free agency and the college draft. At least from that standpoint, we’re excited about the players who are potentially in pro free agency assuming they make it to the market. We’re also kind of excited to see what the draft prospects look like. I don’t think we are solely focused on the quarterback, but it is definitely a position of interest for us. We’re going to evaluate this process going forward and see what happens.

Do they have the cap space to sign him right now?: Yes

Team 3

Offensive resume

Weapons

  • Solid wide receiving corps. WR1 was top-five in receiving, while WR2 chipped in 849 yards and eight touchdowns.
  • Tight end had 532 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.
  • Leading rusher had 842 yards and eight touchdowns, with utility back having 570 yards on the ground, and 421 receiving with five total TDs.
  • Will be getting promising rookie running back back in 2018 after losing them after just four games.

Offensive line

  • Gave up just 27 sacks, good for 7th best in the NFL in 2017.
  • Used seven different starting line combinations during the season, which would be a problem for most teams. It wasn’t for them — showing just how talented they are.
  • Team is still invested in improving the line.

Quarterback situation

  • Has three quarterbacks hitting the free agent market, including 2017 starter.
  • 2017 starter was third string coming into the season, but had a career year with over 3,500 yards, 22 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

Key players: Pro Bowl WR1, Pro Bowl WR2, RB1, RB2, RB3, two-time Pro Bowl TE, C, LT, RT/G

Defensive resume

  • Boasted the NFL’s best total defense in 2017 with 275.9 yards per game
  • Had both the NFL’s second-best passing and rushing defenses with 192.4 and 83.6 yards per game, respectively.
  • Pro Bowl talent on all three levels of the defense.

Key players: Three-time Pro Bowl DE, three-time Pro Bowl and 2017 All-Pro FS, two-time Pro Bowl and 2017 All-Pro CB, three-time Pro Bowl LB

What the team is saying

The GM of Team 3 spoke at the NFL Combine about the team’s quarterback situation:

We feeling very strongly moving forward because of all the in-depth knowledge we have on our current three quarterbacks. Also, the practical game knowledge that we have on those guys. We’re always going to be looking at options in all areas. We’ll try to make sure we’re finding the best fit for the [Team 3], not only on the field from a schematic standpoint, but also with the leadership with [Coach of Team 3], the culture that has been established in our locker room.

Do they have the cap space to sign him right now?: Yes

Team 4

Offensive resume

Weapons

  • An aging but still effective future Hall of Fame wide receiver who had over 1,100 yards and six touchdowns in 2017.
  • Young WR2 who was second in receiving yards with 508 and two touchdowns.
  • Best running back was a veteran who arrived late, played six games while collecting 448 yards and two touchdowns.

Offensive line

  • Gave up the third most sacks in the NFL with 52.
  • It’s simply going to need a serious makeover. The team will be looking to rebuild it in free agency and the NFL draft.

Quarterback situation

  • Their 2017 starter retired during the offseason.
  • Started three quarterbacks, with starts spread out in increments of seven, five, and four games. Neither backup is a future franchise quarterback.

Key players: Future HoF WR1

Defensive resume

  • Had the NFL’s 6th best defense in 2017, giving up just over 310 yards per game.
  • Have one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks
  • Have one of the NFL’s best pass rushers under a long-term deal.

Key players: Seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro CB, two-time Pro Bowl and 2017 All-Pro pass rusher, 2015 Pro Bowler and All-Pro FS

What the team is saying

Team 4’s head coach said at the NFL Combine:

“One of the things we talked about from day one is really being aggressive. [Team 4 GM] and I have been on the same page since day one. The one thing we’re looking at right now is whether it’s through trade, whether it’s through free agency, or most importantly, whether it’s through the draft, if not all three. We’re going to be very aggressive in our approach and get the right fit.”

Do they have the cap space to sign him right now?: No, they’d have some work to do.

The best fit is Team 3, which is the Vikings.

Here’s who the other teams were:

  • Team 1: Broncos
  • Team 2: Jets
  • Team 4: Cardinals

The Vikings are the most complete team among the ones that have a chance at signing Cousins. They have weapons offensively — so much that Case Keenum had a great 2017 season.

Along with the offensive weapons come one of the NFL’s best defenses. They were able to almost win games single-handedly in 2017. With the right quarterback, they could be even more fearsome in the 2018 season.

Cousins has expressed his desire to win, and if that’s truly the case, there’s no better place than Minnesota.