We’re six weeks away from the start of the new league year in the NFL and already one of the top quarterbacks on the market is off the board.
The NFL world was in shock Tuesday night when the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to trade Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins for a third round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. Washington also agreed with Smith on a four year, $94 million dollar contract with $71 million guaranteed.
The Browns had been linked to Smith since the team hired former Chiefs general manager John Dorsey in December. Adam Schefter reported that six teams were interested in Smith and I’m sure the Browns were one of those teams although I’ve heard in recent days the interest wasn’t as strong as the media had reported.
Add in the contract extension as well as Smith’s not so ringing endorsement on the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday, I don’t think a Browns/Alex Smith marriage was ever truly in the works.
Now with Smith heading to Washington, all eyes now will be on Kirk Cousins as he will hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent on March 14.
The Browns currently have $109.6 million in cap space, the second most in the NFL and could essentially offer whatever Kirk Cousins would want in terms of a contract.
However, Cousins has stated recently that the money isn’t what he’s after.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network mentioned after the Smith trade that the Denver Broncos are poised to make a run after Cousins with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills as other potential options for the 30 year old quarterback.
I’m sure Cleveland will reach out to his agent and try to get a sit down meeting with Cousins to make a pitch to him but with how today’s free agency works, Cousins will have a deal done before free agency officially opens.
Kirk Cousins has proven the last three seasons he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL but the team around him in Washington wasn’t complete enough to get far in the regular season or the postseason.
If he ends up in Denver or Buffalo, it’s my belief that those teams would enter Super Bowl contention.
I can understand why he wouldn’t want to come to Cleveland because it’s been a mess of an organization and Cousins knows what that’s like as Washington has been a dysfunctional franchise for years.
So where does that leave Cleveland?
The best veteran option at the moment would be Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum. It’ll be interesting to see how that situation unfolds after a successful season where the Vikings got to the NFC Championship with Keenum under center.
Minnesota also has Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater who will be testing free agency.
Other options include Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor who will likely be cut due to a large roster bonus pending and of course Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron who was almost a Cleveland Brown at last year’s deadline.
McCarron has a grievance hearing on February 15 that will determine if he’s a restricted or unrestricted free agent.
The Browns also have the first and fourth overall picks in April’s NFL Draft and I think will definitely pick a quarterback at the top of the draft whether that’s USC’s Sam Darnold or UCLA’s Josh Rosen.
The Browns do need to add a viable veteran quarterback option this offseason though because they can’t come into another season with an inexperienced depth chart that was one of the big reasons behind the 0-16 record last season.