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Kirk Cousins could be part of Jets' off-season plan at quarterback

Our New York Jets question of the week focuses on what surely will be a hot topic from January to March, especially in Washington, D.C., but also in quarterback-needy cities across the NFL:

@RichCimini: I'd say the odds improved when Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, who were expected to be strong suitors for Cousins. The Jets like Cousins as a player and I expect them to have some degree of interest if he hits the free-agent market. Remember, general manager Mike Maccagnan made an inquiry in the summer of 2015, when Geno Smith was punched out and suffered a broken jaw. Wisely, the Washington Redskins weren't interested in trading him.

As for the coming offseason, the Redskins have to make the first move. They'll either: sign him to a long-term deal, use the franchise tag again ($34.5 million), use the transition tag ($28.8 million) or let him walk as a free agent. If they let him hit the market, the Jets will have to make a value judgment.

The Jets will have more than $80 million in cap space, so there's no issue there. The question is whether they would want to dole out the biggest contract in franchise history for a 30-year-old quarterback who ranks anywhere from eighth to 14th in the NFL, depending on your perspective.

The Redskins' best offer last offseason was $53 million guaranteed (including the $24 million tag), according to our Redskins reporter John Keim. That should provide some idea of what he wants to be paid. Translation: a lot! He'd also be looking for the right fit -- coach, scheme, etc.

If the Jets go all-in on Cousins, it'll mean they're not high on the draft-eligible quarterbacks or not willing to pay a king's ransom to trade up for one. Any trade almost certainly would include their 2019 first-round pick. Right now, I think there are three options for the Jets:

1. Trade up: This would be for Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen or Josh Allen. In this scenario, I could see them re-signing Josh McCown as a bridge/mentor.

2. Cousins (or another established veteran): I'm thinking Alex Smith, if the Kansas City Chiefs put him on the trade block.

3. Hedge their bet: They've gone this route before, meaning a second-round pick (or later) and letting him develop behind a veteran such as McCown. Baker Mayfield, anyone?

I feel confident in saying the Jets will make a significant quarterback acquisition, either via the draft or free agency/trade. I believe Cousins will be part of the decision. No matter how it shakes out, it will cost plenty of resources, either money or picks/players.