How the Kirk Cousins rejection changed everything for the Jets

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Make no mistake, the Jets wanted him badly — so badly that they raised their initial offer, putting a three-year, $90 million contract on the table — fully guaranteed. They saw it as a rare opportunity to acquire an established quarterback in his prime. As it turned out, their blockbuster proposal accomplished only one thing: It forced the Vikings to raise their offer from $75 million to $84 million, based on what Cousins says in an online documentary that details his decision-making process. He jumped at the Vikings’ revised offer, also fully guaranteed, not even bothering to take a visit to the Jets.

His decision forever changed the franchise. nike

“Cousins or Darnold? Me, personally, I’d take Darnold,” said a longtime NFL talent evaluator, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “They gave up a lot for Darnold, but you can’t minimize the money and how it impacts their cap. They got Darnold at a fraction of the price. I thought they did a good job.”4

The Cousins saga dominated NFL headlines during the run-up to free agency, capturing the attention of a certain college student at USC. Darnold acknowledged that he tracked the rumor mill, knowing the outcome would directly impact his draft position.

Cousins’ presence would’ve changed the narrative surrounding the team. Rebuilding? No way. That perception would’ve gone out the window. A team can’t spend $90 million on a quarterback — for only three years, mind you — and sell the slow build to its fan base. No, Cousins would’ve been an accelerator, putting the Jets in win-now mode.

That, of course, would’ve raised the stakes for Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan. There would have been less patience from the fans and media — and probably ownership. When an owner writes a $90 million check — by rule, guaranteed money must be placed into escrow at the time of signing — he has the right to expect more than five or six wins.

Chances are the Jets would be better than 3-3 with Cousins, who is undoubtedly a better quarterback than Darnold right now. Some around the team believe an experienced quarterback would have pulled off the Week 3 game in Cleveland, in which Darnold struggled in the second half and the Jets lost 21-17. At 4-2, the Jets would be tied for first place in the AFC East.

Cousins would’ve been a nice fit in Jeremy Bates’ offensive scheme, which is similar to the system he ran in his early years with the Washington Redskins. But Cousins’ supporting cast would’ve been weaker than what he has in Minnesota. That, many believe, is the main reason he chose the Vikings over the Jets, who have no Pro Bowl players (past or present) on offense.