The Kirk Cousins sweepstakes officially opened at noon on Monday, and the Jets made it clear they are going to be in it. They are willing to pay a very high price to land their much-needed franchise quarterback.
But are they willing to guarantee it all?
That is emerging as the key question in the race for the 29-year-old Cousins. He has long been expected to land a deal worth around $30 million per season, and lately the buzz around the league has been that he's looking for a three-year deal so he can possibly cash in as a free agent again in 2020. That puts his likely market value in the neighborhood of three years, $90 million.
And NFL Network reported on Monday that at least two teams are prepared to fully guarantee all three years.
It is not known which teams are willing to give him what would be the NFL's largest-ever fully guaranteed contract, but the Jets and the Minnesota Vikings have long been considered the front-runners for his services. The Jets, according to multiple sources, believe they can offer Cousins the most money and hope to entice him with a heavily front-loaded deal.
But as SNY has reported, they are worried that Cousins is destined to sign with the Vikings, since they give him the best chance to win right away given they are coming off an appearance in the NFC championship game. The Vikings have about $47 million in salary cap space compared to the Jets' $90 million-plus, which could make a lucrative, fully guaranteed contract difficult to fit. But it's certainly possible, especially if Minnesota is where Cousins wants to play.
Many around the NFL assume it is, especially now that the Vikings' former starter - Case Keenum - has reportedly agreed to sign with the Denver Broncos. That not only takes the Broncos out of the Cousins chase, but it leaves the Vikings with a glaring - if expected - hole at quarterback. The Arizona Cardinals are also a possibility for Cousins, according to a source, though it was unclear if they were able, or willing to meet his price.
Cousins is also expected to take at least one visit before signing a contract. He has "several offers" already, according to NFL Network, but it's not known if he has any visits set up.
Meanwhile, the Cousins guessing game had some intrigue on Monday. Although the Vikings are favorites to land him, they reportedly called about Drew Brees, the Saints quarterback who still could become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. Brees and the Saints have been discussing a new contract, and he is expected to remain in New Orleans. But the Vikings apparently placed a call just in case.
And Cousins added to the intrigue too when he posted a lengthy farewell to Redskins fans on his Instagram account. At the bottom, he tagged both the Jets and Vikings -- though he later removed those tags after word of them spread.
Cousins remains the Jets' top free-agent priority, according to a team source. If they are unable to land him they will likely look to re-sign last year's starter Josh McCown and possibly Teddy Bridgewater, the former Vikings starter who missed most of the last two seasons with a knee injury. It's also possible they'd try to select a quarterback with the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft.