The first domino in the NFL's free-agent quarterback frenzy reportedly fell overnight, with veteran Case Keenum agreeing to sign with the Denver Broncos. He wasn't the biggest domino, of course. That's still Kirk Cousins, and he's still available.
But the Keenum-to-Denver news still could have a big impact on the offseason landscape. Here's a look at how it affects the Jets:
- It means definitively the Minnesota Vikings need a new quarterback: Right, no surprise. They've made it clear they were trying to move on from the Keenum/Teddy Bridgewater/Sam Bradford Era. But it had to be comforting to know they had the quarterback who led them to the NFC championship game available as a fallback option. Now that he's no longer an option, that could strengthen their pursuit of Cousins.
- Maybe that means Cousins really is headed to Minnesota? Maybe. That remains the Jets' fear, as SNY has reported, and many, many people around the NFL consider it a near-lock that Cousins signs with the Vikings. Would they have let their incumbent quarterback leave if they weren't sure they had a replacement ready? That doesn't seem likely. Several Jets sources said they believe it's unlikely, too.
- One possible "Plan B" for the Jets is gone: Actually, Keenum was more like a Plan C or D for the Jets, from what I've been told. They didn't see him as a long-term solution. He was more like a "bridge" QB who can hold a place until a young quarterback is ready, and if they go that route, they'd prefer to just bring back Josh McCown. But he was still an option to be considered. The fewer options available, the more desperate the chase for Cousins becomes.
- It could make other teams more aggressive with their Plan Bs: The Cleveland Browns traded for Tyrod Taylor, and the Broncos locked up Keenum before the market opened. That leaves dwindling options for teams like the Arizona Cardinals who are shopping for a quarterback too. They don't seem likely to land Cousins, so perhaps they'll swoop in and sign someone else, while the Jets are waiting on their top target, leaving them with even fewer Plan B options. By the way, two Plan Bs the Cards are reportedly looking at are Bridgewater and McCown - both of whom might be the Jets' Plan B, too.
- The Broncos might be looking at a QB in the draft - and they draft one spot ahead of the Jets. Keenum is 30, so the Broncos still might want a quarterback of the future. And yes, they do have three 27-or-under QBs in Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, and Brock Osweiler (at least one of whom will be an ex-Bronco by the summer). It's safe to assume if GM John Elway thought any of them were good enough, he wouldn't have signed Keenum. So, they could be in the market for a QB at No. 5, which is an issue for the Jets because one possible Plan B for them includes drafting a QB at No. 6. And they already had to sweat out the quarterback-needy Browns (at No. 1 and No. 4), and Giants (No. 2), and the possibility that the Buffalo Bills are going to use their two first-rounders (No. 12 and No. 22) to move up for a QB.
None of this changes the Jets' main plan in free agency - to sign Cousins. They are already in the bidding, as SNY reported on Monday, and prepared to meet his expected asking price of $30 million per year. They might even be willing to fully guarantee him a three-year deal.
But they remain the underdogs to the Vikings in this chase, and the Keenum-to-Broncos move makes their situation slightly more precarious. They might need to step up their efforts on Cousins, and if they lose him to the Vikings they'll have to move fast on their Plan B.