Los Angeles Rams: Kirk Cousins would be wrong fit in 2018

The Los Angeles Rams quarterback situation in 2018 shouldn’t involve Kirk Cousins, even if Jared Goff tanks

For the first time since 2012, the Los Angeles Rams quarterback situation appears secure going into the season. Second-year player Jared Goff will get the start to open 2017, barring injury. The No. 1 overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft will audition this season for the role that is seeking a long-term solution.

By most accounts, Goff has enjoyed a productive offseason. He exceeded the team’s expectations of his progress, according to an NFL.com report in May. 2017 will be an audition of sorts for Goff, who had an atrocious 2016 rookie season. He has to prove himself worthy as a long-term solution.

Otherwise, several pundits indicate, Los Angeles will zero in on a specific target as his replacement in 2018: current Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, new Rams head coach Sean McVay’s former protégé when McVay was the Redskins offensive coordinator the past three seasons.

NBC’s Mike Florio told The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan in Washington (per CBS Washington D.C.) that should Goff fail in 2017, the Rams will enter into a competition for Cousin’s services:

“Anything other than the franchise tag [in 2018], $34.47 million, Cousins will at least have a chance to go out and see what else is out there,” he said. “And guys, I’ll tell you what, I’d keep my eyes on the Rams with Sean McVay, because if Jared Goff isn’t the guy, what a tug of war we could see next year between Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers, and Sean McVay and the Rams.”

The problem with that logic is Cousins’ asking price next season. The Rams still have not signed defensive tackle Aaron Donald to a long-term deal. When they do, they won’t have much cap space — even if they get cornerback Trumaine Johnson and his $16.7 million salary off the books after next season.

Cousins’ next contract likely will be close to that of Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Carr recently signed a five-year, $125 million contract, that includes $70 million in guarantees, to stay with the Raiders. Even if the move upgrades the Rams quarterback spot, the team couldn’t fill deficiencies on the rest of the roster.

Chants for Cousins may grow louder if Goff struggles this season. But Goff won’t be a finished product after 2017, either. Goff needs at least two years. The Rams must upgrade the wide receiver corps around him to determine whether he can be a franchise option under center.

Even if the defense is ready to win now, the offense appears to be at least a year away. It’ll be more than that if Cousins steps in as the Rams quarterback in 2018 and leaves the team without any cap space to further improve.