Entering this year's NFL free agency, one of the most appealing players on the market was quarterback Kirk Cousins, as it was reported the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, and the Arizona Cardinals were all after his signature.
In the end, the former Washington Redskins star ended up signing for the Vikings on a three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed deal, making him the highest paid player in NFL history. In the Broncos situation, they signed former Vikings star Case Keenum to be their quarterback instead.
Many thought, just like Minnesota, Denver would go hard after the signature of Cousins, but instead, they signed Keenum before Cousins had completed his own deal with the Vikings.
According to Cousins' agent Mike McCartney, via Peter King of Sports Illustrated, the Broncos never made an offer for the quarterback. King says that Denver liked Keenum and didn’t want to pay in the region of $30 million a year guaranteed for a quarterback with so many other prominent players to pay on their roster.
John Elway made the final call, opting to go for Keenum for $10 million to $12 million per year less than Cousins, knowing because of the situation, they could get him near the start of the legal tampering period. Sure enough, ten hours into that period, they had reached a two-year, $36 million guaranteed deal with the former Vikings star.
Signing Keenum instead of Cousins also keeps the door open for the Broncos to draft a quarterback with the fifth overall pick in this year's draft, although getting the quarterback they want may become more complicated now that the Jets have traded into the third pick overall in the draft with the Colts.
King also revealed in his report that McCartney declared that behind the Vikings, the Jets were second in line for Cousins, while the Cardinals were third. However, he stated Minnesota was the closest to winning right now, with a talented young base and the kind of team that could win when Kirk wasn’t playing well.
New York wasn't placed higher on the list than Minnesota as Cousins might have had to be more of a team-carrier there since they don't have as strong of a supporting cast, and there wouldn’t have been the kind of patience there’d be in Minnesota if he'd struggled on the field.
Ultimately though, it seems everyone involved in this scenario is happy with their quarterbacks at the moment. The Vikings got Cousins, the Broncos have Keenum and the option to take a quarterback at fifth overall in the draft, while the Jets have Josh McCown, as well as Teddy Bridgewater, and the option to take another quarterback with the third overall pick in the draft.
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