Report: Cousins finalists down to Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, Vikings

The Kirk Cousins sweepstakes could come down to four teams trying to land the free agent Washington Redskins quarterback.

The Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings are expected to be the finalists for Cousins, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Saturday.

Those teams privately are planning how to pursue Cousins, how to structure a contract for him and how to convince him, according to Schefter. The report said most of those teams are thinking short-term deals of potentially three years with a high guarantee in the contract.

The 29-year-old Cousins has played the past two seasons under the franchise tag for the Redskins.

SEE ALSO: Saquon Barkley would love to be drafted by the Cleveland Browns

In 2017, Cousins topped the 4,000-yard mark for the third straight season, finishing with 4,093 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

The Redskins are set to move forward with Alex Smith as their new starting quarterback after reaching a trade agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 30. That deal can become official March 14, the first day of the new league year. Smith also agreed to a four-year extension once the trade becomes final.

Redskins senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams, speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday, called Cousins "a free agent for sure," though he wouldn't completely rule out the possibility of the team tagging him a third time.

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Kirk Cousins through his career
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Kirk Cousins through his career
LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 23: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins warms up before a game against the New York Giants at FedExField on November 23, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 12: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Michigan State Spartans talks to coaches on the sideline against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Spartan Stadium on September 12, 2009 in East Lansing, Michigan. The Chippewas defeated the Spartans 29-27. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 05: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Michigan State Spartans warms up prior to the start of the game against the Montana State Bobcats on September 5, 2009 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING,MI - CIRCA 2011: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Michigan State Spartans poses for a portrait in 2011 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Michigan State Spartans/Collegiate Images/Getty Images)
12 JAN 2012: Education Session entitled Students First: Giving Student-Athletes the College Experience They Deserve held at the JW Marriott and Indianapolis Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. Joshua Duplechian/NCAA Photos via Getty Images.Pictured: Kirk Cousins
ASHBURN, VA - MAY 06: Kirk Cousins #12 of the Washington Redskins throws a pass during the Washington Redskins rookie minicamp on May 6, 2012 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
ASHBURN, VA - MAY 06: Kirk Cousins #12 of the Washington Redskins speaks to members of the media after a practice during the Washington Redskins rookie minicamp on May 6, 2012 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Quarterback Kirk Cousins of Michigan State looks on during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 07: Quarterbacks Robert Griffin III #10 (L) and Kirk Cousins #12 of the Washington Redskins take the field before playing the Atlanta Falcons at FedExField on October 7, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Dec 15, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) throws a pass in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 14, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs off the filed after the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 41-10. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks for a receiver against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 20, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates after a touchdown by Redskins running back Matt Jones (31) against the St. Louis Rams in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws the ball against the Green Bay Packers during the first half in a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 11, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) on the sidelines against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Redskins 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) joins his teammates and members of the United States Armed Forces in holding a giant american flag during the national anthem prior to the Redskins' game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 16, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates with fans after the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 24, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) stands in the pocket in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
September 17, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws as offensive tackle Trent Williams (71) blocks Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Alec Ogletree (52) during the first half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) locks arms with teammates during the national anthem before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates after a touchdown in the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during an NFL football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Williams quickly downplayed such talk.

"It's not too late," the former quarterback said. "But we haven't really talked about that. The media had come up with those scenarios more than what we've talked about it because I can't remember one meeting where we talked about the possibility of tagging him."

Tagging Cousins before the March 6 deadline would result in a guaranteed $34.5 million for the quarterback in 2018. With Cousins tagged, the Redskins could look to trade him for more than the compensation pick they will receive from letting him walk. However, they could only do that if Cousins signed the franchise tender, making such a move risky.

--Field Level Media

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