Kirk Cousins has been airing it out against the Cowboys for the last three and a half seasons. In seven games against Dallas, he’s only emerged victorious once and that was in a shootout against Kellen Moore at the end of the 2015 season. While Cousins days are over helping the Redskins battle it out against their rivals, he could still end up making one final decision that may impact the Cowboys - which team he signs with in free agency.
Where Cousins ultimately decides to play in 2018 should have a domino effect when it comes to the upcoming draft. There are several teams entering the draft with quarterback needs - Cleveland, Denver, Arizona, and both New York teams. The Jets, Broncos, and Cardinals are all teams expected to have an interest in Cousins so if one of those teams ink him to a big deal, that’s QB-needy team that can be crossed off the list. With five different teams with QB needs, does it really matter which one signs Cousins? Regardless of where he goes, you’re still going to be left with four teams remaining who may go after a QB early in the draft.
So, if you’re thinking in terms of what is best for the Cowboys - where can he go that would still help Dallas the most in the upcoming draft?
#1 New York Jets
The Jets pick at the six spot in the draft and unfortunately for them, they are behind three other teams (Cleveland, New York Giants, and Denver) who also need a quarterback. If teams early in the draft snag the top QBs, it’s possible New York would pass on a quarterback instead of reaching, whether they have Cousins or not. The Jets have so many other pressing needs to where it may not make sense to select a quarterback at that spot, especially if the top ones are already taken. It would depend heavily on how they view this QB class. Do they make a play for Baker Mayfield?
Signing Cousins would have the least amount of ripple effect in the draft as it pertains to impacting the Cowboys. Not only that, but Cousins going to the AFC means that Dallas will only have to deal with him once every four years and when they do - he’ll be on the Jets.
Sorry Kirk, but this is where we will be rooting for you to go.
#2 Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals pick four spots ahead of Dallas at 15 and it’s very hard to say if a quarterback is going to be something they consider at that point. Similar to the Jets, the top guys might be gone so how interested would they be in someone like Mayfield, Josh Allen, or even Lamar Jackson? They may take their chances, hoping one of those guys is still lingering around on Day 2.
Arizona has an assortment of offensive needs. With the ageless Larry Fitzgerald aging, they could pluck a wide receiver off the board. They also have needs on their offensive line. If you’re hoping for a defensive player for the Cowboys at 19, then watching all these offensive players get drafted before Dallas is on the clock is music to your ears.
#3 Denver Broncos
The Broncos pick 5th overall in the draft and are in a good position to land one of the elite QBs. All it takes is for either Cleveland or New York (Giants) to pass on a quarterback and one of the top two guys will be available. If Cousins goes to Denver, then it would remove a strong QB-taking candidate from the draft.
Denver has struggled finding a quality quarterback since Peyton Manning retired. In 2016, they missed out on the top two QBs in the draft (Jared Goff and Carson Wentz) so they traded up with Seattle to draft Paxton Lynch. That hasn’t worked out for them and now they might have a chance to get one of the top QBs in the draft.
The Browns have the first overall pick as well as the fourth overall pick (thanks to the Texans) so they are sitting in great shape to select one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. If they don’t do it with the first pick in the draft, they can just grab him a few picks later. Unless the Indianapolis Colts are giving up on Andrew Luck, they will not be a threat to take a QB at the #3 spot. The Browns front office can play around with different scenarios that will produce the guys they want to score from this draft, but you have to figure that at some point along the draft they will be selecting a quarterback.
Cleveland has a lot of draft capital (four picks in the first two rounds) this year, but they might not want to get too cute. They traded a pick to Houston last season that the Texans used to select Deshaun Watson and that left the Browns to draft DeShone Kizer in the second round. Kizer threw twice as many interceptions as he did touchdowns and didn’t win a single game whereas Watson was tearing it up early on before his season ended abruptly with a knee injury.
Cleveland is a place where careers go to die so the thought of Cousins playing for the Browns scares no one. But the Cowboys need them to take a quarterback off the board.
#5 New York Giants
The Giants could go several different directions in the draft, including selecting one of the top collegiate QBs. But they also have huge needs on the offensive line and could go after guard Quenton Nelson from Notre Dame. If the Giants pass on a QB with the second overall pick, it’s just going to make it that much harder for the next QB-needy team to pass up on him.
Cousins going to the Giants helps the Cowboys none. In fact, it could hurt. Eli Manning or a young rookie quarterback with no protection would be fun to watch. Kirk Cousins with improved protection (drafting Nelson) would not be. Let’s keep Cousins out of the NFC East, shall we?
The Vikings aren’t a team listed as a team with big QB needs, but they are a team that is interested in Cousins. They pick after Dallas so if Cousins goes to Minnesota, there are still five teams ahead of the Cowboys in the draft that will need a quarterback. From a draft perspective, this is the best landing spot for him.
The flip side is that one of the strongest NFC teams would get even stronger with a quarterback like Cousins behind center. If wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen can thrive with Case Keenum at quarterback, just think of how good they could be with Cousins.
Where do you think Cousins could land that would benefit the Cowboys the most?