Now that the Vikings are expected to be in the mix for Kirk Cousins, the Broncos’ chances of acquiring him likely lessened compared to what they were before Minnesota became a serious contender. But Denver has no plans to bow out.
John Elway said the team would explore all options this offseason to upgrade at quarterback, and Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com reports Cousins is far and away the option the Broncos prefer. Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune adds (via Twitter) the Cousins-to-Broncos rumors are flowing in Indianapolis.
Robinson notes the Vikings and Jets are expected to be the other top Cousins pursuers. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv noted “rampant speculation” around the Combine is sending Cousins to Minnesota.
The Broncos do not possess the cap space the Jets do, with New York now holding more than $90MM. The Vikings also stand to sit with nearly $50MM as of Friday. But Robinson reports the team is looking at ways it increase its cap room. Denver is currently sitting on just less than $25MM, according to OverTheCap, but Robinson notes the Broncos are conjuring scenarios they can increase that to north of $40MM and perhaps as high as $50MM. Denver is likely parting with Aqib Talib ($11MM in cap savings), and Elway did not give assurances C.J. Anderson ($4.5MM) would be back for a fifth season as the Broncos’ starting running back.
However, Elway said Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Derek Wolfe would return. He also indicated (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, Twitter link) embattled right tackle Menelik Watson ($4.5MM in possible savings with $2.7MM in dead money) would be back. That’s somewhat surprising given that Watson allowed the third-most sacks in the league despite playing in only seven games. Beyond restructures, and high-profile restructures haven’t been too common in Elway’s GM tenure, there aren’t other obvious avenues to create notable space.
Robinson notes a Cousins deal might be closer to a three- or four-year agreement and adds a shorter-term deal — one that would allow him to be in line to sign a new deal before his age-33 season — would be attractive for the passer. The Broncos are likely going after Cousins to help their Super Bowl core, and with those players being in their late 20s or early 30s, a three- or four-year Cousins agreement would line up with that. Although, a shorter-term doesn’t provide the kind of security a franchise would presumably seek in being involved in this kind of pursuit.
Cousins is expected to take visits to meet with teams, and Robinson writes the Broncos’ experience signing Peyton Manning after he made Denver his first visit in 2012 could provide an edge for the Colorado franchise. The Yahoo reporter compares the Broncos’ level of interest in Cousins to Manning.