It is no secret that the Jets are in need of a starting quarterback if they want to compete in 2018, but Kirk Cousins should not be the guy the Jets should go after this offseason. A few days prior to Super Bowl LII, the Washington Redskins basically admitted that they were not going to bring back the successful veteran quarterback for the 2018 season as they traded for Kansas City Chiefs veteran quarterback Alex Smith.
So now it is looking like the 29-year-old Cousins is going to be available in free agency, which could make him one of the highest paid players in NFL history. Cousins played under the franchise tag the past two seasons with the Redskins and kept showing that he deserves a long-term deal. Since taking over as the full-time starter prior to the 2015 season, Cousins has thrown for a total of 81 touchdowns and only 36 interceptions in 48 starts. While it’s no secret that Cousins is capable of playing at a very high level in the NFL, the Jets should stay away from this huge bidding war that is about to break out for the six-year veteran.
Even though the Jets will have plenty of cap space this upcoming offseason, they should not use it to go after Cousins. This is simply because the Jets have some other needs on their team they need to address other than the quarterback. The Jets offense as a whole is still a huge question mark heading into 2018 as their offensive line and running game was inconsistent in 2017. Also, second-year wide receiver Robby Anderson was recently arrested in Florida for the second time in eight months, which means he will likely face some sort of punishment by the NFL during the 2018 season. So the Jets could certainly use an upgrade at basically every position on the offensive side, which includes quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and offensive line.
The Jets might need to spend some money defensively as well. Even though the safeties and linebackers are basically set for the Jets in 2018, they still need another cornerback and could use some more help on the defensive line. Cornerback Morris Claiborne had a solid first season with the Jets in 2017, but other than him the Jets really lacked depth at that position which is something the Jets need to address for 2018. Also, with veteran defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson likely to be cut by the team after back-to-back disappointing seasons and some issues with the team towards the end of last season, the Jets could certainly use some of that free agency money to find Wilkerson’s replacement in 2018. With Leonard Williams entering his fourth NFL season, the Jets could use another dangerous defensive end to support Williams on the other side of the defensive line.
After a 5-11 season for the Jets in 2017, they have the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. With many talented quarterbacks coming out of college for this year’s draft, the Jets should spend their free agency money to build around a rookie quarterback. Whether it is Josh Rosen from UCLA, Sam Darnold from USC, Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma, or Josh Allen from Wyoming, at least one of those guys should still be available for the Jets to take with the sixth pick.
Even though drafting a quarterback can be risky as you never know what you are going to get out of them, the Jets are better off taking that risk in the 2018 draft instead of making Kirk Cousins one of the highest paid players in league history. The last time this organization had some success was in 2009 and 2010 when the General Manager at the time, Mike Tannenbaum, spent money at positions around the quarterback and drafted a quarterback, Mark Sanchez out of USC in the first round of the 2009 draft. Even though Sanchez didn’t exactly become a star in the NFL and was out of New York after the 2013 season, the Jets still made it to back-to-back AFC championship games in 2009 and 2010. This was thanks to an elite defense, excellent running game, and the presence of veteran wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards along with star tight end Dustin Keller.
The Jets may have seen little success since winning their first and only Super Bowl in 1969, but the Jets are at their best when they have an elite defense and a solid running game. Sure having a big-time, successful quarterback like Kirk Cousins is key to a team’s success, but defense wins championships as we have seen many below average quarterbacks win Super Bowls thanks, in part, to their team possessing elite defenses. This is what the Jets should try to do as well.
So with too many question marks surrounding the Jets entering the 2018 season outside of the quarterback position, it would be foolish for the Jets to spend a vast majority of their cap space money towards one player, regardless of how experienced and talented he may be. It also wouldn’t be the ideal fit for Cousins because after getting only one playoff start in six seasons with the Washington Redskins, he wants to go someplace where he has a good chance of getting to the playoffs. And right now the Jets are a long way away from getting back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
For the Jets, they would be better off by staying away from the Kirk Cousins bidding war and spend their free agency money towards the other voids this team needs to address. As for Cousins, he would make a better fit for a team that is ready to win now that is just a quarterback away from possibly making a Super Bowl run such as the Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, or Jacksonville Jaguars.