Do the Denver Broncos have interest in Kirk Cousins? Is Brian Dozier headed to the Twins’ Hall of Fame (it shouldn’t be before this guy)? And why is the Gophers men’s basketball team so bad on the road?
- Item: Pro Football Talk had this item Thursday: The Broncos are open to making a big deal if they can upgrade at quarterback. But they don’t necessarily think all the big-name quarterbacks available are upgrades on Drew Lock. Specifically, the Broncos are not interested in Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, according to James Palmer of NFL Network. Palmer had reported the Broncos “will pursue” Deshaun Watson if the Texans are willing to trade him, and said the Broncos were interested in Matthew Stafford before the Lions agreed to trade him to the Rams. (This item was published shortly before news broke that the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to trade Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts.)
- Reaction: It’s not a stretch to think Denver has made a call to see if Kirk Cousins is available. The Broncos have been searching for a quarterback since Peyton Manning retired and new general manager George Paton is very familiar with Cousins, having worked alongside Vikings general manager Rick Spielman for 14 years before leaving Minnesota in January. There is no indication that Spielman is actively shopping Cousins, but multiple quarterbacks are going to be on the move this offseason and one has to believe teams are checking on Cousins If the offer is right, and ownership signed off on a potential deal, Spielman might have to give trading Cousins serious consideration. What the Vikings need to find out — if they haven’t already — is if Cousins is willing to restructure his contract. Cousins agreed to a two-year, $66 contract extension last March in order to create salary-cap space for 2020. But Cousins is now scheduled to make a base salary of $21 million with a $31 million cap hit in 2021 and then have a base salary of $35 million with a cap hit of $45 million in 2022. Those 2022 figures have to be lowered, but Cousins would need to agree to do so. Cousins’ 2022 salary will become guaranteed on the third day of the 2021 league year (it starts March 17). If he has told the Vikings he’s not going to help them out, Spielman might have no choice but to begin entertaining offers.
- Item: Former Twins second baseman Brian Dozier announced his retirement after nine seasons in the big leagues, including six-plus with Minnesota in which he hit 167 home runs. That is the most by a second baseman in club history.
- Reaction: Dozier is only 33 years old but said he decided to walk away because he “fell out of love” with the game. Dozier was a fan favorite during his time with the Twins — he was an All-Star in 2015 and won a Gold Glove in 2017 — but unfortunately his time with the organization came during some very rocky years. Traded during the 2018 season, Dozier played for Twins teams that finished above .500 only twice. He hit 42 home runs in 2016, making him one of three Twins to hit 40 homers in a season. Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew and Nelson Cruz are the others. The 42 homers tied Rogers Hornsby for the second-most hit in a single season by a second baseman in MLB history. The one thing that stood out about Dozier was his ability to go from ice cold for an extended stretch to red hot. In 2016, he hit .202/.294/.329 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 46 games in the first two months. He then slashed .294/.358/.631 with 37 homers and 82 RBIs from June 1 to the end of the season. The question now is whether Dozier will be elected to the Twins Hall of Fame? My radio partner, Phil Mackey, thinks it’s a certainty that Dozier will make it, but as we discussed on “Mackey & Judd” that shouldn’t happen until two-time World Series champion and longtime team broadcaster Dan Gladden is elected to the Twins’ HOF. Dozier put up stats, Gladden won rings.
- Item: The Gophers lost 82-72 to Indiana on Wednesday night to drop to 6-9 in the Big Ten and 0-8 on the road (all Big Ten games) this season.
- Reaction: The Gophers’ remarkable ineptitude away from Williams Arena was well-documented in a tweet from Dave Campbell of the Associated Press. Minnesota is 6-36 on the road over the past four seasons and 17-64 under Richard Pitino overall. Tubby Smith’s teams went 23-42. More from Campbell: Of the top 250 teams in the NCAA’s NET rankings, only four others are winless on the road: Pacific (123), Boston College (165), Loyola Maryland (203) and Iowa State (235). The Gophers are 57th. The Gophers have some excellent wins at home this season (Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan and Purdue) but you have to wonder if the NCAA selection committee will put them in the tournament if they finish winless on the road. The Gophers have four games remaining on their schedule, including three at home (Illinois, Northwestern and Rutgers) and one on the road (Penn State). Minnesota also has yet to be assigned a makeup date for its game at Nebraska that was postponed on Jan. 20. The Gophers are 13-9 overall and one would think (hope?) they can beat Penn State (7-10, 4-9) or Nebraska (5-14, 1-11) away from Williams Arena. If that doesn’t happen, the selection folks are going to have a decision to make about whether the Gophers should be included in a tournament that won’t be held in Minneapolis.