Could Browns work an overly complicated sign-and-trade for Kirk Cousins?
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns may be interested in quarterback Kirk Cousins, but bringing him to town may turn out to be overly complicated.
The Washington Redskins have bungled the contract situation with quarterback Kirk Cousins for the last two years.
The Redskins are finally ready to move on from Cousins after agreeing on a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs last week for quarterback Alex Smith, but might still be looking to capitalize on Cousins one last time before he is out the door.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Washington may place the franchise tag on Cousins one final time in the hope that they can work out a sign-and-trade deal with another team.
Which is where the Cleveland Browns could conceivably enter the picture.
Cousins will be in demand if he hits free agency as an unrestricted free agent, with the Browns joining the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings among the teams that would likely show interest.
Related: Can the Browns really give Kirk Cousins what he desires?
The one tangible thing the Browns can offer Cousins that no one else can is the most money, thanks to the more than $100 million in available cap space that general manager John Dorsey inherited when he took the job in December.
Cousins has gone on the record as saying that money will not the sole determining factor, however, as after dealing with the Redskins he wants to join a stable franchise that can also win, which would take the Browns out of the running.
But if trading for Cousins suddenly becomes an option, then it just comes down to Dorsey deciding that a quarterback who has never won a playoff game is worth bringing to town on what will be the largest contract in league history.
There is also the reality that the Redskins plan simply might not work.
As Schefter points out, the Redskins can tag Cousins but they can’t actually trade him until he signs the new contract. After everything that the team has put him through the past few seasons, Cousins, knowing that he will get paid eventually could decide to stick it to the Redskins by sitting on the deal for a couple of months, which would put a $34.5 million grip on Washington’s salary cap.
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If there is a team (or teams) that he truly does not want to play for, Cousins could also let them know he would have no interest in signing a long-term deal with a new team, making him an expensive one-year rental.
Dorsey could still call the bluff and make the trade, hoping that one year with the Browns would be enough to persuade Cousins that the team is on the right track.
Of course, at the moment it is all out of the Browns hands as the Redskins are the ones who have to set this plan into motion, one that sounds more like a fantasy than an actual achievable objective.
The biggest assumption in all this is that the Browns would even be interested in signing Cousins in the first place, a scenario that seems less likely now that the club has brought former Washington general manager Scot McCloughan to town to work as a consultant. It was McCloughan, after all, who did not believe Cousins was worthy of a top-dollar contract while in Washington, so there is no reason to believe that he has changed his opinion.
Next: Could Scot McCloughan lead Browns to Baker Mayfield?
For now, talk of Cousins and complicated deals are a fun way to pass the time while we all wait to see what Dorsey has planned for the quarterback position this season.