The Browns certainly have the salary-cap space to sign a franchise quarterback -- more than $111 million in 2018, according to Spotrac.com -- but unlike the reports about Cousins, another veteran seemed decidedly less thrilled about relocating to Cleveland to continue his career.
"I haven't even thought about that," Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith told Dan Patrick about the prospects of playing for the Browns next season (via Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot). "They've got nowhere to go but up. 1-31 over the last two years just sounds amazing."
Smith knows terrible football when he sees it; he began his career as the 49ers' top pick (and the No. 1 overall selection in 2005); San Francisco went 4-12 his rookie season and didn't have its first winning season until 2011, Jim Harbaugh's first season as coach. Smith was benched midway through the 2012 season (he was 6-2-1) for Colin Kaepernick, and in the offseason he was traded to the Chiefs, where he's done nothing but win. In five seasons in Kansas City, Smith is 50-26 and has made the playoffs four times.
But the Chiefs traded up in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft to take quarterback Pat Mahomes, and the expectation is that Mahomes could be elevated to starter ahead of the 2018 season. Which means that Smith, who will be 34 in May and still has one year left on his contract, could be elsewhere.
"I wish I knew (where I'll be),'' Smith told Patrick. "Listen, I've got a year under contract there in Kansas City. I wish I was in control of this thing. I wish I was the one that got to be able to do this. That's just not the reality."
It would be a gamble to move on from Smith, who ranked ninth among all quarterbacks in total value last season, according to Football Outsiders (just behind Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz). And while Mahomes has youth and athleticism on his side, his lack of experience could mean the Chiefs get worse before they get better. But in a league where quarterbacks drafted early rarely spend much time on the bench, Mahomes' time appears set to come sooner rather than later.
Not surprisingly, Smith would be happy to stay put.
"I love where I'm at right now. I feel like we underachieved," he said "I felt like offensively last year we did some awesome things. But who knows? I've been playing long enough, I've been through this before, the trade deal, so I'm not naive to it. This is a crazy business. A lot of crazy stuff can happen, so we'll see.''
The Chiefs are reportedly open to trading Smith. Earlier this month, CBSSports.com's John Breech highlighted five possible landing spots, including Cleveland (though Smith seemed to nix that idea on Tuesday). Click here to see the other four teams that could be good fits for Smith's talents.