Of all the possible scenarios for Kirk Cousins, the most interesting one is the Cleveland Browns.
Unless you’re from Pittsburgh, Cincinnati or are one of the many coaches or GMs fired by Cleveland, you probably have some soft spot for the Browns. They have good fans who have consistently gotten kicked in the stomach. They’re 1-31 the past two seasons. They’re the laughingstock of the NFL. If the Browns could become a winner, it would be an incredible story. The biggest problem they’ve had since re-entering the NFL in 1999 is finding a competent quarterback.
Kirk Cousins could help in a big way. The Browns surely have the money for the free-agent-to-be quarterback, with by far the most cap space in the NFL. They just need Cousins to see what coming to Cleveland could mean for him. Left tackle Joe Thomas is trying to help, replying to Cousins’ funny post on where he should go:
You could make MORE money and MORE history in Cleveland than anywhere else, by FAR. Don’t just go and be another quarterback somewhere else! https://t.co/tVPqv8pdPB
— Joe Thomas (@joethomas73) February 15, 2018
The money part of it is simple math. A few teams like the New York Jets, once they made some expected cuts, can offer practically the same contract the Browns can. But the Browns are going to be able to offer more than teams like the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals. No matter what, if Cousins wants to max out how much money he can get, the Browns can offer it. That’s not an issue.
The other factor Thomas mentioned is what Cousins should consider: He can become a legend by being the guy to pull the Browns out of the doldrums. When Thomas talked about building a statue for Cousins in Cleveland, he wasn’t far off. They might do it for an AFC North championship at this point.
If the Browns could land Cousins, they could use the No. 1 and 4 picks of the draft on impact rookies (Saquon Barkley and Minkah Fitzpatrick anyone?), or trade one or both of those picks to teams that desperately need a quarterback. Cousins is a far better bet than any of the four top prospects at quarterback in this draft. Cousins is 30, but that conservatively means he has five or six good years left. That’s a lifetime in the NFL. You can find the next Sam Darnold in 2023.
Cousins has said he wants to be a part of a winning team, which would rule out the Browns (or Jets, for that matter), but nothing could be better for his reputation than getting Cleveland to the playoffs. If he wants to be seen as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, turning around the Browns would do it. And the Browns have some good pieces in place. They should not have been 0-16 last season with some of the young talent they have (if Cousins rules out the Browns because coach Hue Jackson seems in over his head, that’s fair). And the Browns will add more, especially if they can use all their draft capital to build around Cousins, rather than use one of their first two picks on a quarterback. The Browns do seem like they could break through soon. A quarterback like Cousins would be the biggest step toward that.
It seems like players wooing Cousins will be the NFL’s best reality show before free agency opens. David Johnson of the Cardinals wants Cousins to come to Arizona, Von Miller is practically sending candy grams to Cousins to get him to Denver. Thomas is trying his best, too. Cousins’ landing spot will be among biggest news of the offseason, and there would be no better story than him trying to turn Cleveland into a winner.
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