WASHINGTON — Every NFL Black Monday has winners and losers, and former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is in line to be the biggest winner of them all.
With head coaching vacancies in six NFL cities, Shanahan has been linked to interviews for four of the jobs, the most by any candidate and a likely indicator that he will depart Atlanta with a promotion this offseason.
If he does land a head coaching gig somewhere, he could potentially offer an Option C for and Redskins’ decision-makers who can’t decide between signing Kirk Cousins or letting him walk.
Instead, the Redskins could place the franchise tag on Cousins for the second year in a row (ensuring a 20 percent raise on his 2016 salary) and trade him for a pair of first-round picks to the team that Shanahan takes over.
It’s speculative, but no one has been as vocally supportive of Cousins as Mike Shanahan, and Kyle has perfected his father’s offensive system. This sort of trade could work out well for both teams, as the Redskins would gain a highly-coveted first-round pick from a team drafting in the first 10 picks of the draft, in addition to an extra first round pick next year.
Meanwhile, Shanahan would hit the ground running in his new city, armed with a quarterback who understands his system and has two years of starting experience. That team would benefit from his resume and it would help to remove the sting of losing top picks if the team could become instantly competitive.
However, whether Shanahan lands somewhere that allows him to make such a trade, or somewhere that requires such a move, is a different story. He has been linked to jobs with the Rams, Jaguars, Broncos and 49ers.
The Rams drafted Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall pick in April, but the youngster proved to be unready, failing to force his way onto the field costing his head coach his job. Cousins would be a remarkable upgrade over Goff, but that would be three consecutive first-round picks devoted to the quarterback position. Shanahan may not have the support of ownership or the front office to make that happen.
The Jaguars are three years into the Blake Bortles experiment, and the results are mixed at best. He completed the same percentage of throws in 2016 as 2015, but his yards per completion fell by more than a yard, his overall yards fell by nearly 500 yards, and he tossed only two-thirds the number of touchdowns as a year before.
Many analysts expected Bortles to regress after a breakout 2015, but where will Bortles be next year? If he has a repeat season next year, Cousins would be a clear upgrade, but if he’s more like 2015, then Cousins could be an unneeded luxury on a team with many holes.
Denver is a tricky situation, as Shanahan walks into an organization tightly controlled by his father’s former star pupil in John Elway. After Sunday’s game, Elway expressed confidence in the team’s two quarterbacks, which could close the door on any further discussion.
San Francisco has gone from a perennial contender to one of the worst franchises in the NFL, which could spell opportunity for Shanahan and Cousins. Blaine Gabbert is a journeyman, while Colin Kaepernick is proving to be fool’s gold. If Shanahan could convince owner Jed York to move on from the available options, Cousins could be an enticing replacement.
All of this is speculative, as Shanahan is not scheduled to start meeting with teams until the end of the week. But if the Redskins’ former offensive boy genius ends up with a head coaching job in one of his four stops, keep an eye on the market for Cousins. On paper, there could be an Option C that benefits all members.