Kirk Cousins Washington Redskins
Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins warms up during pre-game before playing the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Nov. 19, 2017 in New Orleans. Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The New York Jets have quickly become the heavy favorites to sign Kirk Cousins. Several teams will pursue the free-agent-to-be, but the Jets appear to have the best chance of landing the hottest quarterback on the market.

In the days since the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII and the NFL season officially ended, there have been multiple reports indicating that the Big Apple is Cousins’ most likely destination. The Washington Redskins reportedly agreed to acquire Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs late last month—the trade can’t be made official until March 14—in a move that almost certainly will end Cousins’ time with the only team he’s played for.

New York and 30 other teams will officially be allowed to speak with Cousins’ agent on March 12. The Jets are willing to pay the quarterback “whatever it takes,” according to ESPN New York’s Rich Cimini. New York has nearly $85 million to spend under the salary cap, per Spotrac, giving them the ability to pay Cousins more money than any team except for the Cleveland Browns.

The New York Post reported that the Jets could use that cap space to give Cousins $60 million in the first year of his contract. It’d be similar to what the San Francisco 49ers did with Jimmy Garoppolo, front-loading the quarterback’s five-year, $137.5 million deal with $42.6 million in 2018 and reportedly $74 million in total guaranteed money.

There’s speculation that Cousins’ entire deal could be worth close to $150 million. Garoppolo earned his lucrative contract after making just seven career starts. Cousins has performed like a top-10 quarterback while starting every game for the past three seasons.

“This Kirk Cousins to the Jets thing is really starting to heat up now. People are starting to take notice of what’s going on here, and they are finally realizing that the Jets are gonna be all in on him,” former Jets’ quarterback and current NFL analyst Boomer Esiason said Wednesday morning on WFAN.

“They’re gonna go all in on Cousins. They have the coaching staff that knows him and wants him there, and the coach and the general manager need to win.”

In various interviews during Super Bowl week, Cousins expressed that winning would be his No.1 priority in free agency. That could make teams like the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings, who have two of the league’s best defenses, more appealing options than the Jets.

It’s unknown how strongly Minnesota will pursue Cousins, considering they can keep Case Keenum or Teddy Bridgewater at a much cheaper price. Cousins might be Denver’s preferred starting quarterback, but they’ll have less than $26 million to spend on free agents unless they trade some high-priced veterans this offseason.

Cousins isn’t expected to leave a ton of money on the table after seemingly being unwanted in Washington. The Redskins signed the quarterback to the franchise tag in consecutive years, unwilling to commit to him long term.

Cleveland can offer Cousins the most money, though it’s hard to believe they’d offer him a much better deal than New York if rumors of what the Jets are willing to spend are true. Maybe the Browns’ latest string of high draft picks will eventually turn around the NFL’s worst franchise, but no quarterback is bringing Cleveland a championship in the year after a winless 2017 campaign.

The Jets have the No.6 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after going 5-11 last season. New York was 28th in total offense and 25th in yards allowed.

In a quarterback-rich draft, the Jets could decide to select a signal caller in the first round—some projections have Baker Mayfield going to New York—and use their cap space to improve other areas of the team. Cousins has never won a playoff game, and he’ll be 30 years old when the 2018 seasons starts.

As Washington’s starter from 2015-2017, Cousins averaged 4,392 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 97.6 passer rating. The Redskins went 24-23-1 with one postseason appearance during that time.