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John Clayton doesn’t like Cardinals’ chances of getting Kirk Cousins

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) takes a hit from Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (55) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: John Clayton, NFL Insider

Say this about Kirk Cousins: he knows how to hog headlines.

The quarterback’s contract has been a story line around the NFL for the last two years and now there’s a new development in the Cousins saga — where will he play in 2018?

The Washington Redskins, Cousins’ team for the last six seasons, traded for quarterback Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs earlier in the week, closing the door on Cousins returning to D.C. next season and beyond.

Plenty of teams will have interest in Cousins, who has thrown for more than 4,000 yards and at least 25 touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. One of the those teams could be the Arizona Cardinals, who have a gaping void at quarterback following the retirement of Carson Palmer and the fact that backups Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert and Matt Barkley are all free agents.

NFL insider John Clayton isn’t that convinced that Cousins will land in the desert.

“I kind of break it down in this order,” Clayton told Doug & Wolf Friday morning on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “I think Denver first, I think the New York Jets are number-two. Number-three, I think, could be the Buffalo Bills.

“Number-four could be, although I think it’s going to be a tough stretch to fit that salary in, the Arizona Cardinals. And then number-25 would be the Cleveland Browns, because he’s not going to go to Cleveland.”

Clayton brings up a valid point. The Cardinals aren’t blessed with the most salary cap room heading into the 2018 league year, and would likely have to do some heavy lifting to clear the space — and that’s even before starting the process of trying to lure Cousins to the Grand Canyon State.

Clayton reiterated that it’s more of a logistical problem for Arizona as opposed to a question of frugality.

“I’m looking at it from the team standpoint,” he said. “I would never accuse Steve Keim and Michael Bidwill of not willing to be able to pay anybody — they pay well. But it’s a matter of can they fit that into the cap and still be able to maintain the defense.

“I think it’s a tougher stretch to fit (Cousins’ contract) into Arizona’s salary cap. So it’s not a matter of are they unwilling to pay the cost — you know they are. I mean they were able to pay the cost on Carson Palmer. It’s a matter of can they successfully fit that under the cap, and that’s why I give them a little bit of a lower number.”

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