Should Kirk Cousins land in Arizona, an NFC West reunion with Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay awaits

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals are one of at least four teams left in the sweepstakes to land Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, but should Cousins end up in the NFC West, he’ll be in for two reunions next season.

Usually that’s a reason to celebrate. But in this case, that may not necessarily be a good thing.

One of the byproducts of Cousins signing with the Cardinals would be the opportunity to face two of his last three offensive coordinators four times a year. Kyle Shanahan, who was the Redskins' offensive coordinator from 2010 to 2013, now is the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Sean McVay replaced Shanahan in Washington from 2014 to 2016 before he became the Los Angeles Rams' head coach.

The Cardinals play each of them twice per season. That’s a lot of pregame hugs and plenty of time to reminisce. How close were Cousins and McVay? When McVay left for the Rams’ job, Cousins gave him an autographed jersey with the inscription: “I owe you my career.” That jersey now hangs in McVay’s house. McVay is only two years older than Cousins, so the two could relate beyond the player-coach level.

With Shanahan and McVay each having had three seasons with Cousins, that’s a lot of data and experience they can use against him. And if their own experiences with Cousins weren’t enough, both Shanahan and McVay took a couple of coaches from Washington with them to their respective jobs, giving them an even larger database to draw from. For a quarterback who has a 24-23-1 record as a starter, having that much knowledge of him on the other side may not fare well.

Players face former coaches all the time, and it usually makes little difference. And that just may be the case with Cousins in the NFC West. Then again, four times a year he’ll be facing two of his past three coordinators.

For new Cardinals coach Steve Wilks, winning soon has become expected. Arizona is on the verge of three straight seasons without a winning record, and should Cousins end up with the Cardinals, he’ll be the one primarily responsible for preventing that. But earlier this offseason, some Cardinals coaches talked about their best way of making the playoffs was by winning the NFC West, and in doing so they could face a speed bump with Shanahan’s and McVay’s knowledge of Cousins.

However, there’s a flip side.

Cousins would have just as deep of a knowledge base on both of those coaches. He knows their personalities. He knows how they think. He knows their playcalling tendencies. That would help Arizona just as much as it would help Shanahan and McVay knowing Cousins.