Kirk Cousins has set himself up this off-season to become the highest paid player in NFL history. Boasting a career quarterback rating of 93.7, Cousins has the ability to erase the failed Brock Osweiler experiment from the memory of NFL fans. Contrarily, he can reinforce the notion that signing a mid-tier veteran to a big money deal is detrimental to a franchise. Regardless of your opinion on Cousins, the one fact that reigns true is that quarterback is the biggest need for the New York Jets. The Jets are expected to have an immense amount of cap space, and thus, would not be hard-pressed to hand the richest contract in league history over to the 29-year-old quarterback. In order to prepare fans for who may be the next Jets quarterback, here is the case for Cousins.
The Case for Kirk Cousins to the New York Jets
The New York Market
Few markets are as cutthroat towards its athletes as New York. A constant spotlight will shine on every peak and valley associated with a player’s career. That spotlight shines brightest on the quarterbacks of New York’s football teams. A certain type of personality is needed to handle the attention and scrutiny that comes with playing in New York. A distinct competitive fire and unshakable confidence are necessities in dealing with the media. These are two characteristics that Cousins possesses. His personality is a much better fit for Gang Green than thesoft-spokenn Nick Foles, and the questionable character of prospects such as Josh Rosen. Signing Cousins would allow the Jets to allocate all their efforts into putting the best possible player on the field, and be worry free about the character Cousins brings with him.
The Quarterbacks of the Draft
The main argument against signing Cousins is that the Jets should instead look to the draft and secure a young franchise quarterback for the future. While in past years this argument had merit, it is hard to stand by given the state of the 2018 quarterback class. The 2018 class has a four-man traffic jam vying for the top spot among quarterbacks. Rosen and USC quarterback Sam Darnold appear as the favorites to hear their names called within the top three. However, there is a very real chance a team falls in love with Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, or Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, and makes either of them a surprise top pick. The concerns that each of these quarterbacks carry may outweigh the benefits of passing on Cousins to select one.
Concerns About Josh Rosen
Rosen is widely regarded as the most pro-ready quarterback in this class. He’s light years ahead in terms of pocket presence amongst his peers. He is the most mechanically sound in the class and delivers with good accuracy within the pocket. However, there are serious concerns about the upside that Rosen brings. He lacks adequate mobility and has a tendency to force passes back over the middle when rolling out. This inability to play outside the pocket limits Rosen’s ability with teams that struggle against a good pass rush. The Jets offensive line is a weakness at the moment. Putting Rosen behind this line could see him repeat the career of former Houston Texans quarterback David Carr.
Concerns About Sam Darnold
Darnold positioned himself last year to sit comfortably as the top prospect in the draft. After throwing 13 interceptions in 2017, that status is now in question. Darnold showed some serious issues with his decision making in 2017 resulting in these interceptions. While some of the blame can be put on USC’s offensive line, the Jets, again, are not strong up front. Turnovers have been the main issue of past Jets quarterbacks, and it is hard to feel confident that Darnold will stop that trend.
Concerns About Josh Allen
Allen is the most physically gifted quarterback in this class. Standing at 6’5″ Allen has good mobility and special arm strength. Yet his mechanics are unpolished, especially under pressure where he seems particularly uncomfortable. His accuracy is spotty at best and he struggles with touch passes over the middle as well as placement on sideline throws. Allen is an interesting prospect, but his extremely low floor makes him a large risk.
Concerns About Baker Mayfield
Mayfield seems to be the quarterback given the “character concerns” tag in this year’s draft. While that tag may be more appropriately donned upon Rosen, there are still concerns about Mayfield on the field. His feet are a major issue with “happy feet” in the pocket and a tendency to step too far outside on his throws. This is an issue which creates a tendency to sail passes and ultimately results in turnovers. Couple that with his short stature and Mayfield is far from a sure thing.
This offseason is critical for the futures of Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles. Their future lies in the hands of whoever is under center for the Jets next year. Each of the top quarterbacks in the draft carries their own risks, and a specific personality is needed to handle the New York market. It is not often a free agent quarterback hits the market with the pedigree that Cousins has. Overall, Maccagnan and Bowles would be hard-pressed to find a better option than Kirk Cousins in 2018.