Kirk Cousins is in a category by himself in terms of maximizing wage on the quarterback place. The signal-caller is on the eve of signing a take care of what could possibly be the highest average annual price tag in NFL history. Few individuals — together with the previous common supervisor in Washington, the place Cousins performed for the previous six seasons — think he will ever play up to his lofty contract. However irrespective of who indicators the free agent, Cousins’s new group could be foolish to not additionally signal a brand-new tight finish. In any other case, the large amount of cash being spent on Cousins — the Vikings have reportedly offered roughly $90 million over three years — can be going to waste.
Cousins’s latest efficiency in Washington affords his subsequent employer a transparent blueprint for turning him into a really nice participant: make use of fewer large receivers and extra tight ends. For the three-season interval from 2015 by means of 2017, Cousins was probably the most environment friendly quarterback in soccer when two tight ends have been on the sphere, in response to ESPN Stats & Info Group. Throughout that point, Cousins threw 256 passes with precisely two tight ends within the formation and averaged 10.24 yards per try. That’s almost a yard higher than the second-best quarterback with two tight ends, Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions (9.37), though Stafford tried almost 100 fewer passes. And Cousins beats the NFL quarterback common of seven.76 yards per try with two tight ends on the sphere by almost 2.5 yards.
Cousins is much much less efficient in additional conventional formations. He averaged almost three fewer passing yards (7.37) when not outfitted with two tight ends within the formation. If you happen to have been to prorate Cousins’s two-TE manufacturing over a full season, he easily tops Hall-of-Famer Kurt Warner’s record for many yards per try in a single season because the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. Without them, he’s 2017 Josh McCown.
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However a number of the groups vying for Cousins’s companies don’t have even one tight finish who’s a receiving menace. Of the groups which can be reportedly after Cousins within the free-agent negotiation period that begins Monday — the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets and Vikings — Minnesota appears greatest positioned to reap the benefits of Cousins’s abilities. The Vikings have a Professional-Bowl tight finish in Kyle Rudolph and final season used the two-TE greater than the league common (19.2 % of cross performs, in contrast with 18.2 for the league). Minnesota lost their offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, however replacement John DeFilippo comes from the Eagles, who ranked third within the league in share of cross performs that got here with a two-TE set (24.6 %).
Essentially the most notable free-agent tight finish this offseason is sort of accustomed to DeFilippo’s offense and could possibly be a fantastic Cousins complement. Trey Burton of the Eagles is among the league’s greatest athletes on the place, registering a best-in-class 40-yard sprint, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle time in his draft year of 2014. Final 12 months, within the two video games that starter Zach Ertz missed, Burton scored three touchdowns.
Burton is predicted to command high greenback based mostly on how well he projects as a receiver. So pairing him and Cousins would require ample cap room this 12 months and past. However he’s not the one free agent out there. Others include Jimmy Graham, 31, who led the place with 10 touchdowns final season, and Tyler Eifert, 27, who had 13 scoring grabs in 2015, his final wholesome season.
Right here’s the factor about these tight ends, although: There’s a case to be made that each group ought to load up on the place and attempt to use two tight ends extra regularly. Total, from the beginning of the 2015 season by means of 2017, quarterbacks averaged zero.64 extra yards per try with two TEs than they did in any other case (7.76 vs. 7.12). This implies a two-TE technique is likely to be price a glance — even for groups that aren’t paying a quarterback $30 million a 12 months.