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Peter King offers predictions matching available QBs with teams

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The 49ers appear to be the toughest to figure out if Kirk Cousins is not available.

The 2017 NFL Combine gets going in just over a week, which means draft, free agency, and trade chatter will get going in a big way. The quarterback market is important every year, and we already have had some discussion about options. But the Combine is when agents do a lot of ground work with owners for free agency and trades, and we get to see the draft prospects competing against each other in drills.

As we get ready for it, MMQB editor Peter King put together a lengthy rundown in his weekly MMQB column of how he sees the quarterback market shaking out. It is a mix of random and educated guessing, but it gives us one well-connected person’s gut feeling on all this.

He cites Kirk Cousins as someone likely to be franchised, and then drops a list of free agents and trade candidates, followed by the top four draft prospects.

Jimmy Garoppolo, New England
Tony Romo, Dallas
AJ McCarron, Cincinnati
Jay Cutler, Chicago
Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay
Brian Hoyer, Chicago
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets
Nick Foles, Kansas City

Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

He continues to think Jimmy Garoppolo sticks around New England as their answer for the future. King has said he thinks Belichick will value him more as the guy to follow Tom Brady, and so he does not offer up a final destination. He predicts the Browns make an inquiry and are rebuffed, eventually either spending a high pick on a quarterback, or making a move for A.J. McCarron.

In discussing the 49ers, King says they are too dangerous to predict at the moment. He offers this up

Shanahan’s been a head coach for 15 minutes and John Lynch a GM for 25. But I do feel it’s likely Shanahan will let Colin Kaepernick walk, do everything he can to try to figure a way to wrangle Cousins from Washington and then, if that fails, study the college quarterbacks and find the one who fits his system the best. I’d just be guessing what the outcome is here.

I would think no team is harder to predict than the 49ers, simply because we don’t know exactly who they like. If Kirk Cousins was available, it would not be at all surprising to see them make a play. And the most intriguing part was King’s thoughts on the 49ers waiting until after the draft to make a move for Cousins. If Washington franchises Cousins with the non-exclusive tag, the 49ers could try and sign him before the draft and give up first round picks in 2017 and 2018, or they could try and sign him after the draft and give up first round picks in 2018 and 2019. I still think that if Washington uses the tag, it will be of the exclusive variety.

King’s list of teams looking at quarterbacks after the 49ers and Browns includes the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Washington, Houston Texans, and Kansas City Chiefs. Houston and Kansas City are King’s ideas of most likely landing spots for Tony Romo. King thinks Houston makes the most sense as they could have Tom Savage as a backup, and Romo likely wants to stay in Texas.