Giants New Priority: Sign Kirk Cousins

Eli Manning‘s streak of 210 consecutive games started will officially come to an end in Week 13. The Giants organization and head coach Ben McAdoo have handled this in the worst way possible. I would have understood, and I’m sure many would agree, if the Giants benched Eli for rookie QB Davis Webb. However, they are starting QB Geno Smith instead. A guy who has thrown 28 TDs to 36 interceptions in 34 career games. HE IS HORRIBLE. There is no other way to put it. It is time to move on from this topic, and it seems as if the Giants are ready to move on from Eli Manning.

So, who will be the man under center for the Giants come 2018? Yes, you read the title right. Kirk “You Like That” Cousins. How do the Giants do this? Why would the Giants do this? What would this mean for the rest of their off-season? Do not try to think too much and hurt yourself. I got you covered.

Step 1: Trade Eli Manning

Eli Manning does have a good amount of money left on his contract and a no-trade clause. After the way the Giants organization has treated him recently, I would not be surprised to see him waive his NTC if he was going to a team that can win immediately. Manning has 2-3 good years left and he is going to want to win soon. What team has enough cap space and will please Eli? Hello, Jacksonville! Jacksonville will have around $34M in cap space when the 2018 off-season begins. They also have a dominant defense, solid run game, and Tom Coughlin. Blake Bortles is not the answer for them. They need to upgrade the QB position if they want to find success. Eli will bring veteran leadership to a young team that has the pieces to win right away. He will fit nicely and the Jags could either cut Bortles, or possibly move him to a desperate team. In return the Giants could receive a package in the ball park of a 2018 2nd rounder and 2019 5th rounder.

Step 2: Cut Marshall, Harris, and Armstrong

When the Giants signed Brandon Marshall, I thought it was a steal. Boy, was I wrong. Marshall went down with an injury early in the year, but even before then he looked like he had brick hands. He was dropping balls left and right, while giving no effort at all. The signing of Dwayne Harris was just not good. The Giants overpaid for a player who they thought could be a game changer in the return game, but he has been abysmal at that position. He also is not a very good wide receiver. He is good as a gunner on special teams, but it is not worth the contract he has. Who is Ray-Ray Armstrong? I did not even know this man was on the Giants roster, nonetheless under contract through 2018. Goodbye. By cutting these three players the Giants would save themselves a little more than $8.8M.

Step 3: Restructure Janoris Jenkins

In 2016, Janoris Jenkins was arguably the best cover corner in all of football. This year, he has looked lazy and has been placed on injured reserve. He should be embarrassed, as should this whole team, for the lack of effort he has given in some games this year. A change of power should change his attitude. However, the Giants need to save some more money somewhere. They can restructure a few big contracts. I think Jenkins is the most likely to restructure and he certainly should after the lack of effort he has displayed at points this year. If the Giants restructure his contract, they can save about $7.5M.

Step 4: Sign Captain Kirk

Here it is. The moment you have all been waiting for. Kirk Cousins will receive a hefty contract this off-season, but it will be well worth it. I see him signing around 5-years/$130M. After all these moves the Giants certainly have the cap space to make this possible, and they should. Cousins will be 30 years old when the 2018 season begins, which means he can definitely give the Giants at least 5 good years.

Kirk Cousins is having a fantastic season, once again. Cousins gets a lot of blame for the Redskins’ lack of success since he became their full time started in 2015, but that is not all on him. Kirk has started one playoff game for the Redskins, which came in 2015. He passed for 329 yards and threw for one TD, while completing 63% of his passes. The problem in that game, and this has been the case for the Redskins most of the time since 2015, was the lack of defense and a rushing attack. Let’s take a look at the three years in which Kirk has been a starer.

2015:

  • 69.8% Pass Completion Percentage (1st)
  • 101.6 Passer Rating (5th)
  • 379 Passes Completed (7th)
  • 3 Game Winning Drives (8th)
  • 4,166 Passing Yards (10th)
  • 2 Comebacks (10th)

2016:

  • 406 Passes Completed (3rd)
  • 4,917 Passing Yards (3rd)
  • 307.3 Passing Yards/Game (3rd)
  • 4 Comebacks (4th)
  • 4 Game Winning Drives (5th)
  • 97.2 Passer Rating (7th)
  • 67.0% Pass Completion Percentage (8th)

2017 (As of 12/1):

  • 4 Game Winning Drives (1st)
  • 275 Passes Completed (2nd)
  • 3,289 Passing Yards (2nd)
  • 21 Passing TDs (4th)
  • 274.1 Passing Yards/Game (5th)
  • 66.6% Pass Completion Percentage (6th)
  • 99.6 Passer Rating (7th)
  • 1 Comeback (8th)

Safe to say Kirk is at least a top-10 QB in the NFL right now. The Giants would be extremely wise to go out and sign this man, even if it means overpaying a bit. If the Giants can go out and make this possible, they could afford to trade down in the draft and accumulate draft picks. This would give them the ability to add multiple players, through the draft, to positions that they desperately need upgrades at. Cough, running back and offensive line, cough. The Giants would also have about $20M more in cap space after signing Kirk, restructuring Jenkins, and cutting the players I mentioned.

Call me crazy for thinking about this happening, but it is a real possibility. It is becoming more and more realistic that Eli can be traded this off-season. This would mean the Giants would a craving to sign, or draft, a quarterback. Are any of the QBs in this upcoming draft worth a second or third overall pick? That I am not sure of, but this roster is good enough to win next year if they stay healthy. Kirk Cousins could be the answer for years to come as a replacement for Eli. Think about it for a second before calling me crazy.

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How Will the 49ers Get Their Franchise Quarterback?

Usually, a successful NFL team has three strong areas. One is the front seven. Since taking the job, General Manager John Lynch has made that an immediate priority by adding Reuben Foster, Solomon Thomas, and Earl Mitchell to go along with DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Ahmad Brooks, and Navorro Bowman.

Another important part is the offensive line. Pro Football Focus ranked 49ers’ unit 27th heading into this season. Even though that is far from good, Joshua Garnett is going into his sophomore season and still has some upside that could help, especially in the run game. He did hurt his knee, but it is not expected to be serious. Trent Brown needs consistency, but he is very talented. Jeremy Zuttah will help out with the depth and Daniel Kilgore, if healthy (a big if), can be solid inside. Oh and not to mention that Joe Staley guy at left tackle is pretty good.

The last important aspect that makes a good team is franchise quarterback. Right now, the 49ers’ have Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, and rookie C.J. Beathard. While Beathard who has started to come along according to reports, was a 3rd round pick and the likelihood of him playing next season is slim.

As we all know, it is extremely hard to compete in the NFL without a quality quarterback. We also know Hoyer is not Mr. Right, but more Mr. Right Now. Barkley will probably never be a legitimate starter and it is too early to tell with Beathard. Since the next franchise QB is probably not on the roster right now, let’s explore the two major options available for the 49ers going forward.

Draft

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Missing on this guy still stings. However, Lynch could redeem this franchise in a draft next year that is potentially very rich in quarterback talent especially in Sam Darnold (USC) and Josh Rosen (UCLA). The Niners could very well tank next year due to their young roster and lack of talent at quarterback. However, that could be for the best if they can get Rosen, Darnold, or even Josh Allen (Wyoming) in the top 5 or 10.

If the 49ers over-perform next year and Lynch does not trade up for one of the top prospects, they could potentially find a gem later in the draft. In a quarterback-rich class, one is bound to slide. Finding a later round steal is more unlikely, but still a possibility.

Trade for a Veteran

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Quarterbacks are hardly ever traded because they are so valuable. However, there could be a few available who have been linked to trade talks in the past. Three major candidates could be Kirk Cousins Philip Rivers, and Jimmy Garoppolo. To start with Cousins, we all know his relationship with the Redskins’ front office is rocky and there have been a litany of trade rumors. Coach Kyle Shanahan was Kirk Cousins’ offensive coordinator for his first two seasons so Kirk is familiar with the Niners’ system.

As for Philip Rivers, the Chargers are in a rebuild phase. The Chargers might be better served shipping him for some young talent to go along with their young core. Rivers still has a few years left in him and could be a good fit for one last with an up-and-coming defense and some good veteran weapons on offense in Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley, Carlos Hyde, and Kyle Juszczyk.

Lastly with Garoppolo, he has been a hot target for teams this offseason. We do not know how much longer Tom Brady has left in the tank, so Jimmy G. could be a target especially since he is only 25.

In order to get either guy, the Niners would have to give up several assets. If they do end up in the top 5 in the draft, they can use that pick as a major trade piece for one of them. Future picks would probably be involved as well.

Which Should They Choose?

John Lynch should probably stick to building through the draft. Giving up assets for Kirk Cousins, Philip Rivers, or Jimmy Garoppolo with this young team could backfire big time. Garoppolo is still young so he would be the best option and has the most upside out of the three, but he probably has the lowest floor given his barely 3 game sample size as a starter. Lynch and Shanahan are also in no rush as both are locked up for the next seven years. They should look to get the young players as many reps as possible especially towards the end of the year. This way they are more experienced for the next season. With the Cardinals aging, the Seahawks dwindling little by little, and the Rams having a completely unknown future, the 49ers could very well retake this division even with a talented rookie quarterback.

As for C.J. Beathard, it would be great if he can start some games towards the end of the season assuming they are out of playoff contention which they probably will be. If he shows legitimate promise, it would vastly affect the franchise’s decision-making going forward. Realistically, however, it is tough to bank on due to the fact that Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson are outliers as 3rd round rookie quarterbacks succeeding, especially early in their careers. The Niner Faithful will need to remain patient even through the potential struggles and hardships for next season.

 

Photo Credits: The Mercury News