The Browns could conceivably outbid every other quarterback-needy team in the NFL for soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Kirk Cousins.

That doesn’t mean they’ll be able to sign him. Remember, nothing is ever easy for the Browns.

Cousins wants money, but he also wants to win, something the Browns have done just once in their past 32 games.

With Washington agreeing Tuesday to acquire quarterback Alex Smith in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, Cousins will leave Washington and become the primary target of several teams this offseason.

New Browns General Manager John Dorsey made a play for Smith, offering one of the team’s three second-round picks in April’s draft, according to ESPN.com. But the Browns were not willing to give Smith, who’ll turn 34 on May 7, a four-year contract extension reportedly worth $94 million, including $71 million guaranteed, like Washington did, per the report.

The Chiefs preferred Washington’s offer of a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller, named the league’s best slot defender this past season by BleacherReport.com. And Washington’s extension clinched it.

Smith had been the most logical veteran quarterback for the Browns to pursue because Dorsey, as the new GM of the Chiefs in 2013, traded two second-round selections to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for him. Smith could have led the Browns to wins next season and mentored the QB they’ll likely draft first overall on April 26. Last year, he helped his successor, Patrick Mahomes, the 10th overall pick in 2017, and guided the Chiefs to the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

Still, Smith became the latest QB the Browns didn’t secure, and all eyes are now on Cousins.

Teams will be allowed to begin negotiating with Cousins’ agent March 12, and the Browns are projected to have more than $100 million in salary-cap space when free agency officially opens at 4 p.m. March 14. Cousins is expected to command at least $26 million a year.

But Cousins, 29, made his top priority clear Tuesday before news of the trade broke.

“Winning is everything, especially at this stage of my career — I’m going into year seven,” Cousins said during a radio interview with WFAN. “Because I’ve been franchise-tagged twice, I’ve been in a position where it’s not about the money so much. It’s about winning. I want to win. This isn’t the NBA. You can’t just get one player and now you’re in the AFC championship game or the NFC championship game. ... Other pieces comes into play.”

“Is money a part of it? Sure. Is it the only thing? No,” Cousins told ProFootballTalk.com. “It’s about winning, and that’s what I want more than anything. So I’m going to be willing to make sacrifices or do what has to be done to make sure I’m in the best possible position to win, and that’s what the focus is going to be.”

So the Browns, who went 0-16 last season and 1-15 in 2016 under coach Hue Jackson, do not fit what Cousins seeks unless he believes he (with the help of some other key acquisitions) could instantly turn them into a winner the way Jimmy Garoppolo did late last season with the 49ers.

The Denver Broncos and New York Jets are reportedly expected to be in hot pursuit of Cousins, and the Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings are among the other teams in the discussion.

Oddmakers have different opinions about where Cousins is most likely to land. BetDSI.eu has the Browns as the favorite, but www.Bovada.lv lists the Broncos as the front-runner, followed by the Jets and then the Cardinals and Browns in a tie for third.

Browns 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas believes Cleveland is the team to beat in the Cousins sweepstakes despite what the quarterback has said about his desire to win.

“Browns fans were panicking here in the last couple days going, ‘Well, Alex Smith said that he wants to go to a winner and so did Kirk Cousins, so they’re definitely not going to go to the Browns now,’” Thomas said Wednesday during his ThomaHawk Show podcast with co-host and former teammate Andrew Hawkins. “As Andrew Hawkins has told us many times on this show, it’s about the money in free agency, people.

“Don’t listen to what these clowns are saying in the media, saying, ‘Oh, I want to win a championship. That’s more important.’ Dude, if that was the most important thing for you, you already would’ve signed somewhere else. The reason you’re going to free agency is ‘cause you’re trying to get paid the most money.”

Whether Thomas is correct in this case remains to be seen. Either way, the inevitable Cousins-can-help-us-contend sales pitches have commenced.

“I’ve talked to him before. He knows exactly how I feel ... and what he would mean to our team and what he would mean to a lot of teams,” Broncos standout edge rusher Von Miller said Wednesday on the Dan Patrick Show. “We need Kirk. I would like to have Kirk. We have great quarterbacks now. Kirk could take us over the edge.”

If the Browns were somehow able to convince Cousins to join them, they would likely pass on a quarterback with the first and fourth overall picks.

Short of signing Cousins, they’re expected to draft a quarterback at No. 1, and they would like to find a bridge starter to keep the rookie from playing right away.

The Browns agreed in October to a trade for Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron but failed to finalize it, and he’s certainly a name to watch this offseason. McCarron expects an arbitrator to rule Feb. 15 whether he’ll be a restricted or unrestricted free agent in March.

Other veteran quarterbacks who could emerge on the radar of the Browns include the Vikings’ Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, the Bills’ Tyrod Taylor, the Saints’ Chase Daniel and the Jets’ Josh McCown, who played for Cleveland from 2015-16.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com.