Even though Washington placed an exclusive franchise tag on him last week, is it possible that Kirk Cousins could still end up with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017? With a new regime at the helm, the 49ers front office faces immensely important decisions and the team simply has too many needs in order to rely solely on the draft to get the roster back up to a competitive state. New general manager John Lynch went on record to say that the team will be active and with just over 90 million dollars in cap space the team should be able to address several key positions.
Rumors and speculation continue to swirl around the most important position, as the team is in search of their next franchise quarterback, and Kirk Cousins’ name continues to remain connected to San Francisco in a potential blockbuster trade. Cousins would have to be attained via a trade with Washington, which has added plenty of intrigue into the speculation. Cousins has been seeking a long term deal from Washington for the past two off seasons and was tagged with the exclusive franchise designation earlier last week. Trades are always contingent on what a team gives up in order to receive the player they covet but we won’t know that until more news surfaces about the discussions between these two teams.
The potential landing spot for Cousins makes a lot of sense considering the team’s cap situation. Even more than that, there is the clear connection between new head coach Kyle Shanahan and Cousins dating back to their time together in Washington. Kyle and his father Mike saw enough in Cousins to draft him the 4th round of the 2012 draft even after executing a massive trade up for RG3. Trust and familiarity between Cousins and Shanahan would go a long way in turning things around in San Francisco. Shanahan has been able to mold his offenses to the team’s strengths and this reunion would give both men an opportunity to bring the best out of each other.
Cousins has shown exponential comfort in the west coast offense the last two seasons and fell just short of 5,000 yards passing in 2016. He would be an immediate fit in Shanahan’s offense and could also help attract free agent wide receivers to the team. If a trade were made, I wouldn’t be surprised if the team also pursued DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garcon to add more pieces to the offense.
If no trade is reached, the team will have to look to other free agent quarterback options ranging from Matt Shaub, Brad Hoyer, Mike Glennon, or another potential trade with New England for Jimmy Garoppolo. While most fans may not want to take the patient route in terms of this rebuild, if a long term deal is not reached between Cousins and Washington there is high probability he would become an free agent in the 2017 off season. Attaining Cousins for a compensatory pick in the range of a 3rd or 4th round pick a year from now could end up being the ideal strategy for Shanahan and Lynch. Holding on to their draft picks for this year will be an effective course to building up the rest of the roster and re-evaluate the quarterback situation next off season. But if you go back just a few weeks to the Super Bowl it is clear that Kyle Shanahan is not afraid of the more aggressive approach.
Part of the reason that trades have been the buzz is due to the conventional opinion that this draft class does not have a quarterback that is worth a top five selection. But Shanahan has proven he can make an offense work around a variety of skill sets and mold it all according to the talent on the roster. Targeting one of the rookie quarterbacks to get time behind a stop gap free agent could also provide a route their next franchise signal caller.
As the calendar continues to roll towards free agency it will be interesting to see if the rumors continue to gain momentum or completely fizzle out. Either way, the new season is here and the countdown to the draft is on.