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How close were the Cardinals to signing Cousins? MMQB answers

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Around 9:10 a.m. on March 12, Kirk Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, received his first call about his talented free agent quarterback, according to MMQB’s Peter King.

On the line was Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim.

The NFL legal tampering period was underway. The Kirk Cousins sweepstakes had begun.

How Cousins ended up in Minnesota

King describes McCartney’s account of what led to Cousins accepting a three-year, $84 million deal from the Vikings.

  • Seven teams were initially interested, and McCartney felt four had a chance: the Cardinals, Broncos, Jets and Vikings. The Cardinals’ main draw was their “strong core of young premier players” in David Johnson, Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson, King said.
  • King called the offer process a “silent auction.” Teams were told to make their best offer, and Cousins would quickly decide who to visit and where to sign. McCartney felt this was the best way to keep the value high and prevent potential suitors from going to Option B too soon.
  • The first and only visit the quarterback made was to Minnesota. McCartney called Keim to say he couldn’t guarantee a visit if his client liked the Vikings enough, according to King.
  • The Broncos never made an offer. King said management liked Case Keenum and his discounted price – two years, $36 million guaranteed – more than the $30 million range required for Cousins. The Jets are believed to have offered the highest amount, and Arizona at No. 3, though McCartney did not confirm either.
  • Interestingly enough, two other McCartney quarterback clients were impacted by the Cousins sweepstakes. The Jets’ fallback plan was Josh McCown. They had to step aside from Cousins negotiations to find a workable deal with McCown and McCartney, just in case Cousins didn’t choose New York. The other quarterback, Trevor Siemian, was traded to Minnesota.

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