The NFL off-season has predictable patterns. You can’t help but notice them as one year fades into the next. The kind of things that are just “theory” in December as teams are eliminated from the playoffs one by one, begin to harden into action come January and February.
Case in point: I distinctly remember how Cam Newton was talked about coming out of Auburn as a mid-first-round pick. Yes, MID. You can look up the news stories, and the early Mel Kiper Jr. mock drafts. This despite the fact he would go on to win a National Championship in spectacular fashion over Oregon.
By the time his workouts came, and once Carolina began to ponder their future with Jimmy Clausen, Matt Mooore, and Brian St. Pierre under center (yes, those three all started at least 1 game!) Newton rose right to the top of the draft like a helium balloon that had slipped out of a little kid’s hand.
It also helped that ESPN’s Trent Dilfer came away from watching a private workout with Cam, and was absolutely enthralled at how Newton could drive the ball with ooomph! all over the field.
Cam Newton went #1/#1 come late April, like it was never a doubt.
Just like 2 years ago, when both the Rams and Eagles traded significant assets to move up to take both Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, 1-2. That was an absurd notion back in December. I would know this. I take calls for a living from fans with the most VIVID imaginations.
Nobody was talking about that in December. Come draft day, it was a done deal.
Which brings me to Kirk Cousins.
In December, there was talk about the supposedly “shrinking” pool of possible suitors for his services. San Francisco and Los Angeles (landing spot 1A and 1B we speculated over the summer) had slammed shut. Jacksonville made it to within 3 minutes of the Super Bowl. The Steelers fired Todd Haley and Big Ben said: “Retire, who me, retire? Get outta here!”
And the dysfunctional Browns were just capping off an 0-16 farce, while deciding to keep Mr. 1-31, Hue Jackson. Bah! Kirk to the Browns? Never. He’s not an idiot!
But take a look out on the smooth glass water, people. The shark fins are circling and you can bet that teams are coming for Kirk.
The first shark I think will be on the scene is Denver. They are still my bet to get it done. My hunch goes like this…. and it’s just a hunch.
My hunch is that Kirk will get franchise tagged by Bruce Allen and told to “go find a team you like.”
My hunch is that Kirk will talk to Denver first. They will make him feel like the best quarterback on earth. They will offer him something very nice, but not mind blowing. Think $24M AAV, $75M guaranteed. Maybe more. Denver will need to shed some blood to make it work. They’ll find a way.
My hunch is that Kirk will like that alot. Some scoff when Kirk says it won’t be about making the most money. My hunch is that he’s going to prove you wrong on that point, too.
The appeal of Denver for slightly less, will be powerful. They remain a “Tiffany Franchise” and Kirk would go from an Arena League Legend QB in Jay Gruen – a guy who likes to second guess Kirk’s on-field risk-aversion – to being wooed by a Team President who is a bona-fide Legend and Hall of Famer in John Elway. The pitch will be persuasive and include many highlights of Denver’s formidable defense.
My hunch is that Denver and Washington will then haggle over compensation.
My hunch is that the best the Redskins can hope for is a 2019 1st (it’ll be lower, Denver assumes) and a 3rd now.
My hunch is that the Redskins will take it, “declare victory” and move into the Colt McCoy/Baker Mayfield era.
My hunch is that the 2019 1st will be used to move up to get Mayfield.
My hunch is that many glossy ticket brochures with Mayfield’s face will be printed and mailed out.
My hunch is that a stream of anonymously sourced quotes about how Kirk “fell short” of expectations will be leaked.
My hunch is that Kirk will be fucking FABULOUS in Denver right away.
My hunch is that the “Never-Kirkers” will never admit they were wrong, and make new excuses for how it didn’t work out.
But then again… these are all just hunches. I’m wrong a lot, like anybody trying to see the future.
But should Denver fall through, look at the other shark fins now circling the boat. Cleveland will be a real contender. They have so much cap space, it reads like a misprint. Should the Redskins get cute and try the $28M restricted tag on Kirk, Cleveland will capsize the boat with a massively front-loaded deal that nobody can match.
Cleveland’s present, it’s recent past, and most of it’s longterm history is nothing but misery. But that doesn’t mean the future is doomed to be the same. Never before have we seen an NFL team sitting on such a staggering arsenal of picks & cash.
They could buy Kirk at an exorbitant price, not blink, then turn around and draft Saquon Barkley and sun-blocking DT Bradley Chubb on top of it. Pro bowler Joe Thomas has already called his shot on that. Or you could flip the #1 or the #4 for multiple picks down the line. They could have 4 first round picks under 25 years old on defense, plus Cousins throwing to first-rounder Corey Coleman and a (hopefully) sober Josh Gordon.
Don’t think Minnesota isn’t lurking either. All three QB’s come off their books this winter, and since they have to spend on somebody, why not spend on somebody who’s a dependable upgrade?
Now we have Arizona breaching the surface. At his introductory press conference, new head coach Steve Wilks met the biggest issue head-on and said they would have “an active and aggressive” plan to find a veteran QB.
The NFL winter has it’s own gravitational pull, that erases the tepid assumptions of December. The good news for the Never Kirkers is this: if Bruce Allen plays his cards shrewdly, the Redskins won’t just walk away from the Cousins’ era with only egg on their face.