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Could the Browns be a sleeper team for Kirk Cousins?

By Matthew Coller

If you are a baseball fan, you know all about mystery teams.

Even during a year where baseball free agents weren’t getting mega contracts, pitcher Yu Darvish still managed to have a mystery team in the mix for his services. It’s used so often in baseball that it’s part of the vernacular. Every free agent looking for a huge deal has mystery teams.

Football has big-name free agents now and then, but not as big as Kirk Cousins. Save for Peyton Manning coming off neck surgery, it’s extremely rare that a viable starting quarterback comes up for grabs on the open market, so free agency has a different look and feel this year than it has in past years.

That means we are likely to see mystery teams come into play, especially since Cousins reportedly plans a LeBron James-like recruitment tour.

In his column following the NFL Combine, MMQB’s Peter King wrote that there might be more teams involved in the Cousins sweepstakes than the “final four.”

King said:

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the “final four” teams are, indeed, Denver, Minnesota, New York Jets and Arizona. But with plenty of time still on the clock and every other free agent QB likely to hold serve until Cousins lands, another team would have ample opportunity to swoop in with an absurd offer that the 30-year-old quarterback couldn’t refuse.

The team in the best shape to do so is the Cleveland Browns. From Over The Cap, the Browns have $113.8 million in cap space. Browns beat reporter Mary Kay Cabot wrote this from the Super Bowl after Washington traded for Alex Smith:

The Browns reportedly tried to deal a second-round pick for Smith.

From Cousins’ comments, Cleveland’s losing history might be a turn off.

“Is money a part of it? Sure. Is it the only thing? No,” Cousins told’s Mike Florio. “It’s about winning, and that’s what I want more than anything. So I’m going to be willing to make sacrifices or do what has to be done to make sure I’m in the best possible position to win, and that’s what the focus is going to be.”

But a recent rumor that Cousins was interested in a three year deal worth $91 million prompted Over The Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald to say this:

I think it would be insane for a team to do that unless its a desperate team like the Browns.

— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) March 8, 2018

If you don’t think free agents will sign with the Browns because of their struggles, you don’t have to look far to be proven wrong. Just last year, top guard Kevin Zeitler signed in Cleveland for $60 million over five years. Linebacker Jamie Collins signed an extension and Kenny Britt signed an ill-fated five-year, $32.5 million deal.

The Browns also have a first-round tight end from last season and freak pass rusher Myles Garrett, who they selected No. 1 overall in 2017.

With the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks. Cleveland could add Saquon Barkley and trade down to pick top receiver prospect Courtland Sutton or Calvin Ridley.

Teams who look disastrous one year can make quick turnarounds in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers now appear to be a force with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm and money to spend. The Jacksonville Jaguars spent like crazy to sign big-name free agents last season and went from 3-13 to the AFC title game.

The holdup might be that the Browns added former Washington GM Scot McCloughan to their scouting department. He once said that Cousins wasn’t “special

But the Browns have a similar problem to the Vikings: They haven’t had a consistent quarterback in a very, very, very, very long time. Unlike the Vikings, they have given their fans zero competitive teams in the last decade. If there is any team who might go crazy with money and make an argument for a huge improvement, it’s the Browns.

The Vikings are still the leader for Cousins’ services (their odds are apparently similar to Secretariat’s), but if King is onto something, there’s a chance things change once free agency opens.

The post Could the Browns be a sleeper team for Kirk Cousins? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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