Extra Points: Vander Esch, Cousins, Brees

During his teleconference on Monday, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock opined that Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch could shoot up the charts if he clocks in at under 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard-dash at the combine. Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (video link) hears that Vander Esch has been beating that number in practice, which means that we could see him climb the boards in the coming weeks.

Last year, Garafolo was hearing similar rumblings about Temple’s Haason Reddick and he catapulted from the second round to No. 13 overall where he was snagged by the Cardinals. Recently, a scouting director told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report that LVE will go in the first round, though he is unlikely to crack the top 15.

Vander Esch, a high-end athlete for his position, broke out in 2017 with an eye-popping 141 tackles, the most by any Boise State player in an individual season since 1988. He also had 8.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, and two interceptions.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Mike Florio of PFT wonders if this year’s free agent quarterbacks could fall victim to collusion. Already, we’ve heard talk that the Jets will not simply hand Kirk Cousins a blank check, despite their desperate need for a franchise QB. Florio anticipates similar talk to emerge about Drew Brees, who would likely garner $30MM/year from a contender in a fair market. Meanwhile, there’s talk that lesser options like Case Keenum and A.J. McCarron may get less than the value of Blake Bortles‘ now exercised $18MM option with the Jaguars. If QBs of that caliber are stifled, then injury-prone players like Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater will certainly feel it too. Ultimately, teams will be able to find leverage in this year’s draft, which has multiple QB candidates for the first round.
  • This year, free agent blocking tight ends like Darren Fells (Lions), Lee Smith (Raiders), and Virgil Green (Broncos) figure to earn more than expected, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The reason, Rapoport says, is because of poor draft talent in that area and a lack of other options. Last offseason, tight end Rhett Ellison landed a four-year, $18MM free agent deal from the Giants despite averaging just ten catches per season over the course of his five-year career, so there is precedent for TEs to cash in even without gaudy stat lines.
  • If you’re not doing so already, you can follow Pro Football Rumors on Twitter: @ProFootballRumors. It’s a must-follow for all NFL fans, particularly with free agency right on the horizon.
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5 comments on “Extra Points: Vander Esch, Cousins, Brees

  1. slpdajab55

    Cousins belongs in Arizona. He could be a big part of putting that team in a position to compete deep into the playoffs. Him, Fitz and David Johnson along with that defense would be tough. Cousins would make the other speedy receivers better. It’s a perfect fit.

    • Kirk Cousins would be a good fit in Arizona with a ready made team who is strong defensively and who have been playing well despite dreadful quarterback play. There is not too much pressure on him as Arizona is used to not doing very well historically. Sadly Arizona does not have the cap space to pay Cousins. There’s only $22 million there and if you go over the roster, cutting some of the high cap players would actually result in increased cap charges. Some of the players who would have to go to sign Cousins, along with the cap savings by cutting them now:

      Patrick Peterson CB $10m
      Antoine Bethea S $3.5m
      Tyrann Mathieu S $5m
      Josh Mauro DE $2.8m
      Deone Bucannon IL $8.7m

      On offense you have:

      Jared Veldheer RT $7m
      Mike Lupati LG $6m

      So to sign Cousins you’d either have to destroy your championship defence or cripple your offensive line. The only one of those players without millions in dead cap space if you cut them is Deone Bucannon. The only palatable choice on the table would be to start trading away those top players with contracts which match their performance for draft picks. Good luck getting value when the other GM’s know how desperate you are to unload high paid stars.

      Having $6 million in dead cap to a departed quarterback (Carson Palmer) doesn’t help.

      If Cousins were more interested in winning than being the highest paid player in NFL football (without the resumé to merit it), Arizona would be more realistic.

      Teams with a quarterback need and realistic free cap space to sign Cousins (north of $50m free, teams have other needs than just quarterback including signing their own free agents) include (in available cap order) Browns (I respect Kizer even if Dorsey doesn’t and am not convinced Cleveland’s number one need is quarterback), Jets, Colts/b> (if Andrew Luck won’t be healthy this year), Buccaneers (they might be able to get some decent trade value for Jameis Winston who isn’t responsible for last year’s 5-11 but appears to be a small step down from Cousins, this would reunite Cousins with DeSean Jackson), Texans (if they are still worried about Deshaun Watson’s ACL surgery, Cousins is a big step down from a healthy Deshaun Watson), Bears (Mitchel Trubisky hasn’t looked ready yet and would probably do better with a few more years to hone his skills behind a true number one quarterback who is not Mike Glennon – the Bears could drop $10m of cap space by cutting Glennon, I don’t see any trade takers for Glennon at $15m/year), Vikings (three quarterbacks on the roster, none of them healthy or in form outside of Case Keenum, Sam Bradford is made of porcelain, they are all free agents, keep Keenum or Bridgewater as your expensive backup).

      No one else, including the Jaguars or Bengals, can afford Kirk Cousins. They either have very expensive quarterbacks on guaranteed contracts (Bortles, Dalton respectively) or just don’t have enough cap space. Denver Broncos could just swing Cousins if they get rid of Aqib Talib (CB $11m) and Demaryius Thomas (WR $7.5m) or Chris Harris (CB $6.5m), Menelik Watson (RT $5m). In the Broncos favour, they don’t have any high priced QB’s riding their bench (tip of the hat to the Texans).

  2. If the Jets want to spend silly money ($30 million/year) on a quarterback, they should be talking to Drew Brees and not Kirk Cousins.

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