Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins stands next to teammate Robert Griffin III.
After leading the Washington Redskins to a crucial victory over the Cleveland Browns last weekend, Kirk Cousins may have earned himself a starting quarterback job in 2013.
Obviously, it's not going to be with the Redskins. That distinction rightfully belongs to Robert Griffin III, who has ignited his team to first place in the NFC East. However, this offseason, there will certainly be suitors clamoring for the services of the Michigan State product.
It would be an overstatement to say that the Redskins' fifth-round selection of Cousins was a shock to the football world. However, many questioned what the 'Skins management was thinking by using two draft picks on quarterbacks, especially since the team had so many holes to fill. Little did anyone know just how impactful that decision would be on Washington's 2012 campaign.
Cousins saved the Redskins' season with his performances in the last two weeks. After leading his team to a comeback victory over the Baltimore Ravens, Cousins played his first full NFL game last Sunday and brought Washington from behind to beat the Browns. He threw for 329 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and completed 70 percent of his passes.
Surely there will be NFL teams looking for that kind of production in 2013. In a draft class barren of elite quarterback prospects, Cousins could become a hot commodity on the trade market this season. Cousins has good height, pinpoint accuracy, underrated mobility in the pocket and off-the-chart intangibles.
It's far from a guarantee that the Redkins move Cousins this offseason. In fact, it might make sense for Washington to keep him on his rookie contract in case the very mobile RG3 gets hurt. He's not the only quarterback on the market, as Michael Vick, Matt Flynn and Alex Smith all figure to be out there for the taking. However, those three players are sitting on the bench right now for a reason. They haven't produced well enough to keep their jobs.
Cousins has more upside than all the aforementioned veterans. Let's take a look at four teams that should seriously consider putting together an offer for the Redskins backup quarterback.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb is sacked.
The Cardinals are currently ranked 28th in the NFL in passing. The team has started three different quarterbacks this season in Ryan Lindley, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb, and none have been able to have any degree of success. The Cardinals have completed just over 54 percent of their passes this season and have been sacked 36 times.
Arizona's offense has been a disaster as of late, and it's about time the team brings in another young prospect to fill that void.
The Cardinals may have trouble bringing themselves to trade for Cousins. After giving up a first-round draft selection for Kevin Kolb in 2011, it's safe to say that Arizona will think twice before giving up more draft picks for another team's young backup quarterback. The organization has still not recovered fully from the Kolb trade.
However, there may not be a better answer in the draft this year, and free agency probably won't provide any solutions either. For the Cardinals to have any credibility around the league in 2013, they must have a new starting quarterback on the roster. Cousins is a young battle-tested player who has a proven ability to produce in this league.
There's no reason for Arizona not to at least pick up the phone and gauge the market on Cousins. If they get get him for less than a first-round pick, it may be worth rolling the dice.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn.
The Chiefs are an absolute wreck this season.
The team ranks dead last in the league in scoring, averaging just 13.9 points per game. Running back Jammal Charles has been able to orchestrate a formidabe rushing attack, but the passing offense has not ben able to be in any way effective. Kansas City is currently ranked 31st in the league in passing offense, which has inhibited the team's ability to come from behind in games.
The Chiefs are 2-12 this season and in line for the No.1 overall pick in the 2013 draft. Although that pick typically yields a franchise quarterback, this particular incoming draft class does not have any elite quarterback prospects worthy of the top pick.
Matt Barkely's stock is in free fall, Geno Smith has questionable accuracy and the rest of the quarterback prospects are hoping to fight their way into contention to become second-round choices.
Kansas City can either trade the pick and move down in the draft, or pick any one of the highly touted defensive prospects with the top overall pick. Picking a quarterback early in this draft would be a senseless, fireable offense for general manager Scott Pioli.
If the Chiefs do decide to keep the No.1 pick and strengthen their defense, Kirk Cousins could be a viable alternative to the team's quarterback woes. Matt Cassel has proven not to be the answer, while Brady Quinn is nothing but a stop-gap.
Cousins is young, cheap and could pair nicely with wideouts Dwyane Bowe and Jon Baldwin. It may take a few years for Cousins to reach his full potential, but he has the skill set to produce in this league. There is no reason the Chiefs should not be seriously interested in acquiring Cousins.
New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
It would be a near miracle if the New York Jets were able to trade Mark Sanchez this offseason. He has a guaranteed salary of $8.25 million in 2013, and would cost Gang Green over $17 million of cap room if they decide to cut him. Unless Sanchez is willing to rip up his contract and restructure, it would actually save the Jets around $9 million to let their former first-round pick rot on the bench next season.
Not exactly an ideal scenario for a reeling club that needs a fresh start from their Tebow-induced quarterback controversy that derailed their 2012 campaign.
However, the Jets absolutely must bring in another quarterback to start in 2013. And if Rex Ryan somehow survives Gang Green's wildly publicized collpase that took place this season, Sanchez's replacement better be pretty good.
The Jets do not have time to bring in another rookie to develop into a franchise quarterback. This team was built based upon the assumption that four years after spending a first-round pick on a quarterback, that there would be some production coming from that position. There hasn't been, but the Jets have too many veterans on the roster to tear the team apart and rebuild.
Kirk Cousins is far from a finished product, but at least we know he can play productively in the NFL. He's undoubtedly looked better than every quarterback on the Jets roster in his last two games.
The Jets have a solid defense, and are a quarterback, a wide receiver, a running back and a right tackle away from being a competitive football team again. Cousins can fill one of those voids.
If Cousins can come in and produce, the media attention around this team could immedaitely change from overwhelmingly negative to positive in an instant. Without any viable options in the draft, Cousins could be the Jets best hope to right the ship in 2013.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne.
The Blaine Gabbert era came to an end this season in Jacksonville. The Chad Henne experiement is currently underway; however, the team is currently 1-8 under Henne's leadership. The Jaguars need a capable quarterback to come in and play next season, or the team will run the risk of losing its fan base the revenue that comes with it.
The Jaguars, like the Chiefs, will pick extremely high in the 2013 draft. They face the same problems as Kansas City. There are no quarterback prospects in this years draft worthy of a top-five pick, but there are no free agents out there worthy of rebuilding around.
A trade is likely the only avenue in which the Jaguars will realistically upgrade their quarterback position in 2013. Cousins should be a prime targert for Jacksonville, as his youth will allow the team to take a season or two to build around him.
The Jaguars are more than likely going to finish the season 2-14 in the worst possible year. Had they concluded 2011 with this record, Jacksonville would be licking its chops for a chance to draft either Andruw Luck or RGIII. Instead, the best quarterback prospects available are Matt Barkely and Geno Smith, neither of whom are ready to start immediately.
There is no quick fix out there that will allow the Jaguars to compete with the elite teams in the NFL by next season. There is going to be a significant rebuilding process taking place there over the next few seasons.
Kirk Cousins would have time to develop in a small market, with minimal expectations on him. It wouldn't be a bad move for the Jaguars to inquire about trading a second- or third-round pick for him.