As the entire football world now knows, the New England Patriots traded backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Most fans, experts, etc. will write/talk about what the trade means for the Patriots and 49ers. Everyone will want to focus on whether or not the Patriots got enough in return, and if this trade means New England expects Tom Brady to play for at least another 2-3 years after the 2017 season and how Garoppolo will fare in San Francisco.
But this trade could have a huge effect on another team and player, namely, the Washington Redskins and Kirk Cousins. Most people figured that Cousins would wind up signing up with the 49ers after the 2017 season and reunite with Kyle Shanahan. But if Garoppolo actually ends up being the signal caller San Francisco desperately needs, Cousins probably won’t be under center for the 49ers next season. Of course the 49ers could themselves trade Garoppolo and sign Cousins in free agency or San Francisco could just let Garoppolo walk if he doesn’t work out, given that they only gave up a second-round pick for him. So it’s not impossible that Cousins still somehow ends up in the Bay Area. Below are some potential landing spots for Cousins in the wake of the Garoppolo trade.
Kirk Cousins Potential Landing Spots After Jimmy Garoppolo Trade
The Jacksonville Jaguars seem to be a quarterback away from being a legitimate contender in the AFC. Their quarterback, Blake Bortles is averaging 200 yards per game (28th in the league) and he has thrown nine touchdowns and five interceptions. Bortles’ quarterback rating through the first eight weeks of the season is 85.4 (21st in the NFL) and his completion percentage is 58.7 (30th in the league).
The Jags have a 4-3 record and are in a first place tie in the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans, not because of Bortles, but in spite of him. Jacksonville has some talent on offense (including Leonard Fournette at running back) and a change at quarterback could better utilize those playmakers. Their defense is allowing only 15.7 points per game (leads the NFL) and 300.3 yards per game (sixth overall). Having Cousins under center, instead of Bortles, could help take the Jags to the next level. Jacksonville simply cannot truly contend for a Super Bowl with Bortles as their quarterback.
It’s possible that this relationship is fractured beyond repair. Why the team has refused to pay Cousins what he would be worth on the open market is mind boggling (although their owner, Dan Snyder, is simply awful at running an NFL franchise). Cousins is averaging 271 passing yards per game (sixth in the league) this season and he’s thrown 13 touchdowns to four interceptions. The former Michigan State’s 103.3 quarterback rating trails only Alex Smith (115.4) and Tom Brady (106.5) and he has completed 67.9 percent of his passes (fourth in the NFL) this season.
A team needs to still be able to field talent around whoever is under center, but quarterback is the most important position in the NFL and the Redskins have been looking for a true franchise quarterback for what feels like forever and they have that in Cousins. If the Redskins somehow haven’t irrevocably destroyed their relationship with Cousins, who is a quality quarterback, and this off-season they backup the money truck for him, it’s possible he stays in D.C., especially if Washington makes a deep postseason run. The front office needs to do what they can to keep Cousins in D.C. and it’s possible they finally do so this off-season.
When Cousins becomes a free agent this off-season he’ll have no shortage of suitors, but, while still possible, it now seems less likely than it was 24 hours ago he will end up in his destination of choice (San Francisco). There is a chance, if either Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger retire, that Cousins could sign with the New York Giants or Pittsburgh Steelers. However, it’s doubtful that Manning retires at the end of the 2017 season and the Giants aren’t nearly as talented as the Steelers, Jaguars or Redskins and Big Ben will probably play out the remaining years on his contract. Cousins will most likely sign with Jacksonville or stay in D.C. when decision time comes this off-season.