NFC Notes: Cousins, 49ers, Saints, Cardinals

If Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins becomes available either via the trade or free agency this offseason, the 49ers reportedly plan to pursue the 28-year-old. That would seemingly be a welcome development for Cousins, who praised the 49ers’ new leadership – rookie general manager John Lynch and soon-to-be head coach Kyle Shanahan – on Thursday. Cousins told KNBR 680 (via CSN Bay Area) that Lynch is “smart guy” and a “class act,” adding, ” I think it was a good hire and credit the 49ers for going outside the box and doing something different, and not just getting stuck in a rut of the same old thing.” Shanahan is an “offensive genius,” according to Cousins, who played under the longtime coordinator in Washington from 2012-13. “I’ve always been a big fan of Kyle’s,” Cousins said. “I’ve always spoken very highly of him from the day I was picked. And he called me right after the draft and preached belief in me and encouragement … I loved his system right away and saw it successfuly run with Robert Griffin. I’ve seen it now run successfully with Matt Ryan.”

More from the NFC:

  • Colts COO Pete Ward stated last month that an “associate” of Saints head coach Sean Payton reached out to Indianapolis about its head coaching job, but Payton denied that Friday. Payton told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that his only “associate” is agent Don Yee, who didn’t call the Colts, and the coach added that he had never even previously heard of Ward. While there were reports earlier this winter that teams – including the Colts and Rams – could explore trading for Payton, the Saints never made him available, he informed Florio.
  • Payton’s boss, Saints owner Tom Benson, brought an end to a long battle Friday in settling an ownership dispute with his heirs centering on both New Orleans’ NFL franchise and the NBA’s Pelicans, details Greg LaRose of NOLA.com. If not for the settlement, the parties would have headed to trial Monday (the trial would not have impacted Benson’s control over the teams). Prior to Friday, Benson had been looking to remove ownership shares in the Saints and Pelicans from trust funds created for his daughter and grandson. The family had a falling out on account of Benson’s third wife, Gayle, whom he married in 2004 and who, in the heirs’ opinions, has too much control over Benson’s business affairs.
  • The Cardinals are planning to have left tackle Jared Veldheer and right tackle D.J. Humphries trade places in 2017, offensive coordinator/line coach Harold Goodwin revealed Thursday (via Darren Urban of the team’s website). “Jared is a team player, D.J. is a team player, so I’m sure we’re going to have a little coach-to-player conversation, but right now, throwing it out there of my own accord, I think D.J. at left and Jared at right and we’re rolling and kicking butt,” Goodwin said. Veldheer went on injured reserve in October with a partially torn triceps. That opened the door for Humphries to move back to the left side, where he spent his college career at Florida. Humphries was impressive enough there with the Gators to end up as a first-round pick in 2015, though he was inactive for his entire rookie season before beginning last year on the right side. In a combined 13 starts at the two positions, he graded as Pro Football Focus’ 42nd-best tackle among 78 qualifiers. Veldheer, meanwhile, was far better at the time of his injury (No. 18 out of 74), but that won’t stop the Cardinals from moving him off his typical position. The 2017 campaign will be the penultimate season of the five-year, $35MM deal Veldheer signed with the Cardinals in 2014.
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