KUSA — Out of the way, Arizona and your new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
Don’t even think about it, Buffalo and Cleveland. Jets, Schmets. The Denver Broncos are free to prowl for a quarterback named Kirk Cousins.
Washington let the NFL know the talented Cousins will be let go to free agency after the NFC East team acquired quarterback Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday. The story was first reported by the Kansas City Star and then confirmed by multiple reports.
The move means the Chiefs will go forward with Patrick Mahomes II, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2017 who played well in beating the Broncos in a meaningless season finale on December 31.
Smith had one year and $17 million left on his current deal with the Chiefs. Multiple reports say he got a four-year extension from Washington. His revised five-year contract will be worth about $110 million.
The Chiefs reportedly received a third-round draft pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller from Washington. Fuller, who turns 23 the same day Aqib Talib turns 32, was rated as the NFL’s No. 1 slot corner this season by Bleacher Report.
The trade won’t become official until the 2018 league season opens on March 14, but apparently, some tampering rules are looser than others.
The Broncos did have interest in Smith, although the team also realized there was virtually no chance the Chiefs would trade the NFL’s No. 1-rated quarterback this year to a division rival.
With Mr. Smith gone to Washington and Drew Brees letting everyone know he is a Saint and nothing but, the Broncos top two quarterback targets this offseason figure to be Cousins and Minnesota’s Case Keenum, who is also in line to become a free agent.
If the Vikings place the franchise tag on Keenum, the Broncos would be left to go all in on Cousins. They won’t be the only team. Arizona, Buffalo, the New York Jets and possibly Cleveland and Jacksonville may also be in the market for Cousins.
If the Broncos don’t wind up with Cousins, who played on the franchise tag of $23.94 million this season and figures to command a multiyear deal between $25 million and $30 million in free agency, the Broncos would then seek a “stopgap” quarterback in free agency.
Those candidates figure to include the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler, Josh McCown and possibly Tyrod Taylor if Buffalo releases him from the final one year and $16 million left on his contract.
If the Broncos wind up with one of these second-tier free-agent quarterbacks, they would then be expected to select a quarterback with their No. 5 overall draft pick. Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield are widely considered the top four quarterbacks in the draft who could be deemed worthy of the No. 5 pick.