Offseasons are shaped by quarterback movement.
Especially this offseason, with a cavalcade of signal-callers set to operate as high-profile free agents and juicy trade bait.
Where will they all wind up? Here's one guy's best guess as March draws near:
Or maybe much sooner.
If the Redskins were head-over-heels for Cousins, they wouldn't be in this position. Neither would Cousins, who reportedly "doesn't want to be" with the team anymore after endless haggling over his contract. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah believes there's a "greater than 50 percent chance" that the 28-year-old quarterback won't be on Washington's roster next season, saying he "would not be shocked at all if we saw a Kirk Cousins-to-San Francisco trade go down." Once they tag him, the Redskins are free to work out a deal with the Niners -- perhaps as soon as next week's NFL Scouting Combine. Negotiations won't be simple, but one way or another, I have Cousins booked for a new start in Northern California.
» Jimmy Garoppolo to the Browns: New Orleans and Chicago have been named as candidates for Garoppolo at least partly because Saints coach Sean Payton and Bears general manager Ryan Pace, like Jimmy G, went to Eastern Illinois. It's fair to connect those dots, but Bill Belichick doesn't give a hoot about reuniting a pack of Billy the Panther supporters. The Patriots want value for Tom Brady's backup, with CSN New England's Tom Curran noting that the team must have its "doors blown off" before dealing Garoppolo.
For all their flaws from September through December, the Browns in March can top any team out there in terms of compensation. Trading away valuable picks for Garoppolo boils down to one key essential factor: Hue Jackson's belief that the largely untested signal-caller is the answer under center. If the Browns coach isn't sold, Cleveland should stay home and mine the draft for BPAs. If Jackson does believe in Jimmy G, then the No. 12 pick is not too high a price to solve a position reduced to charred earth in Cleveland since Bernie Kosar was released by Belichick in 1993 for "a diminishing of his physical skills."
» Tony Romo to The Windy City: In this scenario, look for (a) Chicago to release Jay Cutler and (b) Dallas to cut ties with Romo, making the Cowboys veteran a perfect fit for the quarterback-needy Bears. The relationship with Pace -- who served as team captain at Eastern Illinois during Romo's 1999 freshman campaign -- only helps. (By the way, who knew Eastern Illinois was such an ultra-flaming hotbed of signal-calling drama?)
While Houston also makes sense for the Cowboys backup, the Texans are stuck paying Brock Osweiler a whopping $19 million this season. That doesn't mean the ineffectual starter is locked in for Week 1, but Texans owner Bob McNair recently downplayed the idea of chasing after Romo, telling the Houston Chronicle: "The challenge is trying to figure out what we can do with what we've got." What the Texans have "got" is a radioactive mess at quarterback.
The Jets are in rebuilding mode, facing a deeper reconstruction than anyone anticipated coming off 2015's 10-6 finish. Certain to be released by the Bears, Cutler is a patch, but he'd give Gang Green a veteran to build around while Bryce Petty learns the position and Christian Hackenberg learns how to put on shoulder pads. Even if the team is truly "all over" North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky, this isn't a roster ready to be led by a rookie. Getting late-period Cutler to bridge the gap makes sense -- as much sense as Cutler makes anywhere, if he chooses to keep playing.
This makes sense, especially if the Bills don't believe they have a shot at Romo. The obstacles amount to general manager Doug Whaley's bizarre fascination with backup EJ Manuel and the money-saving alternative of choosing someone like Clemson's Deshaun Watson with the No. 10 pick in the draft. If Whaley ultimately balks at Taylor's $27 million price tag, you can clip out this entry, set it on fire and toss it into the godless sea.
What about Washington?
» Redskins rebuild quarterback room from scratch: With Cousins out the door, Washington's coaching staff will be forced to start over under center. Outside of making a play for Romo -- this would serve as a fascinating landing spot if he's released -- look for coach Jay Gruden to find a veteran he trusts to pair with a rookie. Assuming they nab San Francisco's No. 2 pick in the draft in a Cousins swap, the Redskins could recoup additional picks by trading down and grabbing a prospect like Trubisky or Watson -- or draft guru Mike Mayock's top passer, DeShone Kizer out of Notre Dame. Redskins fans might hate this idea, but it gives you four years of NO CONTRACT GOSSIP AT QUARTERBACK.
Picking up the pieces
» Robert Griffin III to Seattle: The Browns are a strong candidate to part ways with RGIII before March 11, when the injury-prone arm is due a $750,000 roster bonus. I simply refuse to believe that Hue Jackson will go into next season with Griffin ticketed for a major role. Once free, Griffin will struggle to find any promise of a starting job, but I'm booking the supernova-turned-project for a low-cost look-see with the 'Hawks.
» Nick Foles to the Titans: What kind of a team would try to sell its fan base on Foles as a starter? Nobody looking to sell tickets. Outside of landing with a squad like the Jets, Foles makes sense as a backup forevermore. With Kansas City expected to decline his option, a gig with the Titans fits. The aging Matt Cassel is a free agent, leaving just trick-shot artist Alex Tanney behind on-the-mend starter Marcus Mariota.
» Josh McCown to the Cowboys: Dallas pinpointed McCown as a trade option when Romo went down last summer. The 37-year-old Texas native wants to keep playing -- and ultimately coach. Finishing his career with the Cowboys would serve both sides, especially in terms of adding knowledge to a quarterback room that likely will bring back Kellen Moore behind wunderkind Dak Prescott.
» Matt McGloin to the Falcons: Atlanta has nobody signed behind Matt Ryan. With last year's backup, Matt Schaub, a free agent and linked to Shanahan's Niners (sigh), it's time for the heartbroken Falcons to find new blood behind their MVP. I'm just throwing darts here, but McGloin would give the team a backup with experience.
» Mike Glennon to the La-La Land, Bolts edition:Chargers tight ends coach John McNulty was Glennon's quarterbacks coach with the Bucs in 2013. That's one connection, but the larger issue is this: The Bolts need to groom someone behind Philip Rivers. Unless they're sold on Kellen Clemens and a human named Mike Bercovici, it's time to look around.
» Draft pick to New Orleans: It's crystal clear the Saints are burning to find a prospect to put behind 38-year-old Drew Brees. Barring a stunning move for Jimmy G, why not keep drafting passers? The presence of Luke McCown and Garrett Grayson shouldn't stop Sean Payton from chasing after a rookie -- perhaps Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech or Cal's Davis Webb.