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Ranking QB Kirk Cousins' best options in NFL free agency

Once again, Kirk Cousins is a highly coveted commodity in free agency. Here's a ranking of the QB's best fits.

Kirk Cousins, going on three offseasons, is a highly coveted commodity in NFL free agency.

You can't blame Redskins coach Jay Gruden for wanting team officials to make a final, long-term decision on Cousins either way so the team can move forward with his near-future offensive plans. Given that Cousins turns 30 before next season and is coming off considerable regression in '17 without Sean McVay calling plays, you also can't blame Gruden for moving on.

MORE: 2018 NFL mock draft

With the Redskins out, there are five teams with the necessary projected salary-cap space in '18 (according to OverTheCap.com) to sign Cousins. Here's a look at the chances of Cousins landing with each of his best potential fits, from worst to best.

5. Buffalo Bills

5-percent chance

Buffalo made a big change in offensive philosophy by replacing OC Rick Dennison with Brian Daboll. It would have been a much better fit for Cousins had the Bills stayed with the West Coast — in which he has played his entire career. Daboll, however, comes from the Erhardt-Perkins school, which would come with a learning curve for Cousins. Otherwise, even for a '17 playoff team, there's limited appeal for Cousins in the supporting cast beyond running back LeSean McCoy. The coordinator change is an indication the Bills are leaning toward drafting a rookie high to replace Tyrod Taylor.

4. Denver Broncos

15-percent chance

Denver made its coordinator change from Mike McCoy to Bill Musgrave during the season. The team was disappointed in the quarterback results away from the West Coast, and Musgrave gives the Broncos a chance to return to the system installed under Gary Kubiak and Dennison from '16. There's no doubt they also want to find something a lot more reliable than the Trevor Siemian-Paxton Lynch-Brock Osweiler mess. Cousins represents some stability and would inherit two top veteran receivers and a promising power running game.

The main drawback would be the very tight squeeze to fit Cousins' salary under the cap with only about $29 million available, hindering the Broncos' ability to do anything else in free agency. But as we've seen with John Elway, he's not afraid to make bold free-agent moves at the most important position.

3. N.Y. Jets

20-percent chance

New York also fired its offensive coordinator, John Morton, to get out of its Air Coryell scheme that didn't quite mesh with Todd Bowles' defense-first mentality. Enter elevated quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates to replace Morton. That changes things big-time in the pursuit of Cousins, because Bates is installing the West Coast passing, zone run-blocking scheme in which Cousins has played his entire career in Washington.

On one hand, now the Jets don't present the challenge of Cousins learning an unfamiliar system. On the other, the supporting cast for now doesn't fit Cousins and there's a little appeal for a team that has to rebuild a lot more things to come close to contending.

The Jets just went through the retread route again with Josh McCown replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick and had limited results. They need to and are more likely to finally dive into a first-round QB and use their $74 million-plus cap space to upgrade at several other positions.

2. Minnesota Vikings

30-percent chance

Case Keenum is on the brink of playing well enough to take Minnesota to the Super Bowl. But he, along with Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, are set to be unrestricted free agents. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur created a vacancy in Minnesota, becoming the new Giants head coach.

It's weird to think a team that could win it all this year might actually upgrade at QB, but the Vikings have an opportunity post-Shurmur to turn to a West Coast coordinator with the intent of pairing with him Cousins. Money isn't an issue, as the Vikings would be about $57 million under the cap.

The Vikings are built to keep winning, and Cousins offers a polished option who would work well with their talent at wide receiver, running back and tight end. The critical move for Cousins is whom Minnesota tabs as its new OC. The West Coast stylings of unofficial leading candidate Darrell Bevell, formerly of Seattle, would faciliate the landing of Cousins.

1. Cleveland Browns

30-percent chance

MORE: NFL Mock Draft: Who will Redskins pick at No. 13?

Cleveland still has West Coast-based Hue Jackson, but his hiring of Todd Haley as offensive coordinator, a Erhart-Perkins play-caller, throws a wrinkle into the potential fit of Cousins. It's not a deal breaker, because they are two veteran coaches who can mesh their systems to get the best out of Cousins. Cousins also has said he would "seriously consider" playing for the Browns, despite their winless 2017 season. At a whopping $110 million under the cap, the Browns have plenty of space. Using some of that to lock up Cousins would still give new GM John Dorsey a ton to spend elsewhere in free agency. The Browns could then also draft the best players available at picks No. 1 and No. 4 in the first round.

Remember that Dorsey's first big move for the Chiefs was trading for Alex Smith. He backed that up by putting the right support around Smith to make him most effective. The Browns already have several good skill-position players in place with Duke Johnson Jr., Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon and David Njoku. All signs still point to it being Cleveland vs. the field for Cousins' services.