The football gods delivered a clear message to the Jets Tuesday night, a four-word directive that simply should not be ignored by this star-crossed franchise: GO GET KIRK COUSINS.
Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles should have done backflips up and down the halls on One Jets Drive upon hearing the news that Washington agreed in principle to trade for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
The fallout: Cousins will be a free agent in March.
The Jets, who have stumbled, bumbled and fumbled matters pertaining to the sport’s most important position for the better part of five decades, have the need — and ammunition — to land the clear-cut best signal caller on the market. There’s no reason for Gang Green’s brain trust to out-think itself.
Pay the man.
Cousins, who will turn 30 this summer and is only now entering his prime, has always made the most sense for the Jets. The time is now to finally stop plugging the most pivotal hole on the roster with short-term fixes. Cousins has at least five top-end seasons left in his right arm. He’s smart, polished and ready to go from Day One.
He is the best answer to this organization’s most maddening issue.
Cousins would be an ideal fit for presumptive offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, who will employ many elements of mentor Mike Shanahan’s scheme. Cousins’ and Bates’ paths crossed during the signal caller’s pre-draft visit to Chicago when Bates was the quarterbacks coach in 2012.
Shanahan, in case you forgot, discovered and drafted Cousins six years ago. A Bates-Cousins combo platter would be a solid foundation for an offense that will look very different than a year ago, when it languished in the bottom third of nearly every meaningful statistical category.
“I just think he’s a good football mind,” Cousins told WFAN during his series of interviews on radio row in Minnesota on Tuesday. “He’s about ball and that’s what matters to him. Everybody I talked to who knows him loves him. I think it was a smart hire by the Jets and I wish him well in what he does.”
The Jets have the loot to lure Cousins, who is 24-24-1 with 82 touchdown passes, 36 interceptions and a 67% completion rate in three seasons as the full-time starter. Maccagnan & Co. will have about $100 million in salary-cap space to re-shape the roster. The team’s preference all along has been to add a plug-and-play starter for the upcoming season.
The Jets, of course, won’t be Cousins’ lone suitor. The Broncos, Bills, Browns, Cardinals and Jaguars might also be in play for the prized free agent, prompting some to wonder whether Gang Green will actually break the bank this time for a free-agent QB. How much real guaranteed money will the Jets be willing to dole out?
Real talk: They don’t have a choice, given the state of the franchise. The time is now.
Quality quarterbacks entering the prime of their career rarely shake free.
“There’s no question in my mind that he’s a special player,” Shanahan told the Daily News this week. “If you don’t think he’s a special player, that means you don’t watch him practice very often. … You can’t always do it by yourself. You got to have an offense and a defense for a quarterback to be really successful … especially when you get in the playoffs. But I guarantee you he’s a special guy.
“I think Kirk Cousins could be successful in any offense that he ran,” Shanahan added. “Those quarterbacks are hard to find.”
The Jets have a golden opportunity right in front of them.
They can’t afford to screw it up.