WASHINGTON — Have you ever wanted to ask a special someone a really important question and rehearsed it perfectly? Then when it came time to ask them, you just blurt it out awkwardly?
Then you understand how team beat reporters feel going into the NFL Scouting Combine.
For non-playoff teams, this is the first time that a head coach or general manager has addressed the media in two months. That’s longer than the gap between the end of minicamp and training camp, so it stands as the longest gap without public team feedback in the NFL media schedule.
That’s a long time for rumors and speculation to grow unchecked. For example, the Jets are quarterback hungry and flush with cash. Once the Redskins pulled the trigger for Alex Smith, it was widely assumed that the Jets would be among the teams most willing to pay for Kirk Cousins’ services on the open market.
That has since fluctuated between rumors of a blank check option to land Cousins, and reports of a much more measured approach.
On Thursday, with general manager Mike Maccagnan at the podium, the first question out of a media member’s mouth was pretty direct: “So how much are you paying Kirk Cousins?”
That person was obviously kidding. Free agency is two weeks away. Cousins is still under contract with the Redskins. Even if it’s the worst-kept secret in the NFL, the Jets can’t and won’t confirm their interest in Cousins.
And Maccagnan offered a very by-the-books answer: “He’s technically not a free agent yet, so I can’t comment on any of that stuff.”
It’s just a snapshot of the craziness that this offseason has been for Cousins. He said all the right things about wanting to stay here, but it became public that he had not spoken with the team since the end of the regular season. He was granted a blessing with the trade for Alex Smith, allowing him to hit free agency later this month. At first, the team threatened to tag and trade him and his agent issued a thinly-veiled threat to object before the team stood down (probably).
Now, with just weeks to go, the media in New York, Denver, Minneapolis and elsewhere is still tuning up the hysteria:
When the new league year begins, those teams and fans expecting an answer from Cousins may have to wait. According to a source from Pro Football Talk, Cousins is planning to hear the best of the best offers from each of the top teams that are interested:
So there you have it. The Jets won’t say what they’re offering, but it might not matter. Then again, it might be the only thing that matters.
Free agency can’t come soon enough.