Cousins officially hit free agency Tuesday afternoon when the Redskins let a deadline pass without using the franchise tag on him. Washington had placed the tag on Cousins in each of the previous two seasons, retaining its starting quarterback on pricey one-year deals, but the team had already signaled it was ready to go in a different direction this year when it traded for the Chiefs’ Alex Smith.
Cousins quickly took to Twitter and proclaimed that he was “choosing where to play football” for the “first time since 2007,” when he was a junior at Holland Christian High School. He ultimately committed to play at nearby Michigan State and was selected by the Redskins in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, eventually displacing that year’s first-round pick, Robert Griffin III, as starting quarterback, but never quite cementing his relationship with Washington’s management.
Now on the open market, Cousins won’t lack for suitors — or lucrative contract offers, as he is expected to be courted with the biggest contract in NFL history. Among the teams known to be highly interested in Cousins are the Vikings, Jets and Cardinals, with Sanders’s Broncos very much in the running, as well.
It’s not the first time that Sanders has expressed an eagerness to see Cousins join the Broncos. In February, he told the Houston Chronicle, “I think Kirk is a good player. Everything I’ve heard about him, he’s a leader who will come into the room and fit in well if we’re able to get him. Obviously, we would love to have him.”
Sanders’s interest in a potential upgrade at quarterback is understandable, as his numbers have dropped precipitously since 2014, Peyton Manning’s last great season in Denver. Last season saw the Broncos fall to 5-11 while employing the underwhelming quarterback trio of Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch, and team President John Elway said last week, “We’re going to explore all options in free agency and see where that goes.”
However, the Vikings are widely viewed as the team with the best chance to land Cousins, who has expressed his desire to play for a contender; Minnesota touts a talented roster that went to the NFC championship game with journeyman Case Keenum at the helm. On Monday, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports wrote that Cousins’s decision is likely to come down to the Vikings or the Jets, who “have more money and cap space to play around with than any of the other suitors,” with Minnesota’s realistic Super Bowl hopes making it the favorite.
That would be bad news for Sanders and Miller, who have made it abundantly clear that their “suggestions” for Cousins involve a mile-high landing spot.