Free agency and quarterbacks normally are not words used together, but this year could be different, as a few passers should make their way to the open market. Here we look at some of the top quarterback free agents and players who could be released or traded in 2018. Kirk Cousins, Redskins Cousins is coming off his second straight franchise tag with the Redskins, which puts him in the driver’s seat regarding a new deal with Washington. It’s unlikely that Cousins would re-sign with the team unless the offer blows him away. The Redskins backed themselves into a corner with the use of the tag this past season. This year, a transition tag on Cousins would cost Washington $28.7 million, and a franchise tag would cost nearly $34.5 million. With the transition tag, another team would be able to offer Cousins a contract, and Washington would have the right to match it but would receive no compensation if it failed to match. Using the franchise tag for a third time would block Cousins from free agency. His three-year salary if the Redskins used the franchise tag would be over $78 million, which would have been a top-market contract just last year. Since the Redskins have been adamant that Cousins isn’t a top-market player, it’s hard to see how they can justify the tag a third time. Cousins’ market value should be anywhere between $27.5 million and $29 million per year. He might have been hurt by the 49ers’ trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, as they were expected to be hot for Cousins, but there should be no shortage of interested teams. It’s rare that quarterbacks are available in free agency, and even more rare that a QB who is available is considered an above-average player. The Cardinals, Jaguars, Browns, Jets, Bills and Dolphins all make sense as teams that could be interested in Cousins. Alex Smith, Chiefs Smith is entering the final year of his contract with Kansas City and will count for $20.6 million on the salary cap. The Chiefs have one of the worst cap situations in the NFL and have already drafted Smith’s successor Patrick Mahomes. Smith has been unable to get the Chiefs over the hump in the playoffs, and given their cap space and draft investments, it makes sense for them to move him. Trading or cutting Smith would save the Chiefs $17 million. Smith should demand a new contract if traded, as it’s doubtful that his value will ever be higher than it is now. In the last go-around, the Eli Manning-Philip Rivers-Ben Roethlisberger group received extensions that were just under the top of the market, but all three were considered more accomplished at the time and more valuable to their franchises. Top of the market now would be close to $27 million, and it’s hard to see Smith getting close to that. He is likely closer to $22 million. Smith is a safe bet at QB, so teams like the Browns and Jets should be interested. If the Redskins and Cousins do not come to an agreement, Smith might be an acceptable fallback option, though it’s doubtful Washington would trade for him. Smith’s cost in a trade should be a second-round pick. Tyrod Taylor, Bills As long as his legs hold up, Taylor likely will have a long journeyman career in the NFL. He’s electric at times and below-average at others. Taylor has an $18 million cap figure, which is fair, but the Bills are just as likely to bench him as they are to start him, so keeping him on the roster at that price seems foolish. The Bills would pick up $9.4 million if they cut him. Taylor has a $6 million roster bonus due on the third day of the league year, so the Bills need to make a quick decision. Projecting a salary for Taylor is hard, because the style he plays is not everybody’s cup of tea. A player like Taylor generally would earn around $15 million per season, but his salary could be lower with incentives that can max it out higher. This is probably the price range in which a team like the Broncos would get involved in chasing a quarterback.
Which quarterbacks will be released or traded?
Sporting News | Jan 29