Minnesota Vikings: Could a Kirk Cousins trade actually happen?

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Following other quarterback trades and speculation taking place this weekend, could Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins also be traded this offseason?

With a busy offseason lying ahead for many quarterbacks and teams throughout the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings could end up also being a team that is also included in the shift of players under center this offseason.

For the past three seasons, Minnesota has featured Kirk Cousins at quarterback after the organization went out and signed him as a free agent prior to the start of the 2018 season.

Since Cousins has joined the Vikings, he has been under some scrutiny when it comes to his performance based on the lucrative contract he had signed as a free agent and has since held in Minnesota.

Overall, the veteran quarterback has been solid for the Vikings and has also remained healthy throughout his time in purple and gold as well. In three years in Minnesota, Cousins has played in a total of 47 regular-season games with a record of 25-21-1 overall.

His best season to date came in 2019 when he led the Vikings to a 10-5 record and a trip to the playoffs, also receiving his second career nod to the Pro Bowl.

With Minnesota, the 32-year-old has completed 1,081 passes (69 percent completion percentage) to 12,166 yards, 91 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. He has also rushed 107 times for 342 yards and three touchdowns over that span.

Even with Cousins’ consistency and solid play under center, that doesn’t mean the Vikings wouldn’t ultimately move him for the right price.

Over the weekend, the NFL saw its first quarterback move in an offseason that will be packed full of quarterbacks joining new teams. On Saturday, the Detroit Lions traded Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for Jared Goff and draft picks.

Following that move, along with the impending rumors and moves that will still take place before the 2021 season kicks off, could Minnesota join in on that movement and ship away its starting quarterback to shift focus to a new quarterback moving forward? It’s reportedly not out of the question.

On Monday, an intriguing idea of Minnesota looking to trade Cousins to the San Francisco 49ers in what would be a reunion with the quarterback and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who spent time together in Washington when Cousins was under center and Shanahan was the offensive coordinator, was floated.

This reunion of sorts has been a topic for over a year now, with many around the league knowing Shanahan has a fondness for Cousins and the ongoing questions surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback in San Francisco could persuade the team to make a move for another quarterback.

Over the weekend, NBC Sports also wrote a story predicting where quarterbacks will land this offseason, with Cousins listed under San Francisco to be the player under center in 2021.

“There’s a Football Team reunion in the Bay Area. Kyle Shanahan gets his guy by trading with the Vikings,” the story states. “Minnesota, currently projected to be over the cap for 2021, clear about $11 million in space.”

With the hypothetical idea of Cousins being traded to San Francisco, the story by NBC Sports added the Vikings could then take a rookie quarterback in the draft — in this case, Alabama’s Mac Jones — to lead the team moving forward at a lower cost.

What are the chances the Minnesota Vikings trade Kirk Cousins?

The move of Cousins to the 49ers makes sense when it comes to his contract and the salary situation in Minnesota. The Vikings are slated as having the ninth-worst salary cap situation in the NFL going into 2021 and the team is going to have to make some more moves this offseason to free up space.

Cousins, on the other hand, has two years left on his deal while set to make roughly $21 million in 2021 and $35 million in 2022.

Cousins has been relatively consistent and solid for the Vikings, which is really all you can ask for out of a quarterback.

But it’s an interesting idea to think about what the team could do without Cousins’ contract on the books, and Minnesota could very well end up being a team that jumps into the ring of a team looking for a new quarterback like seemingly half the NFL.

Kirk Cousins Trade Rumors Are Swirling On Monday

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The Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions got the quarterback market churning this past weekend, swapping Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford.

But today it looks like the attention is turning to Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins. According to Evan Massey of NFL Analysis Network, the San Francisco 49ers are “looking to make a move” at the quarterback position.

Massey noted that if the Vikings are open to dealing him, the 49ers will “push hard” to get him. He pointed out that 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has a history with Cousins. The two worked together in Washington for several years before Shanahan went to the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

Cousins has a career-high 35 touchdowns for the Vikings in 2020. But he only went 7-9 as a starter as Minnesota missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

#49ers still looking to make a move at QB. Kirk Cousins, I’m told, is a name to keep an eye on. If #Vikings are open to dealing, San Francisco will push hard to acquire him. Ties with Shanahan make this an intriguing potential fit. — Evan Massey (@massey_evan) February 1, 2021

The 49ers, meanwhile, appear to on the outs with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco went 6-10 in 2020 after making the Super Bowl the year before.

Reports emerged that they were interested in acquiring Matthew Stafford before he was traded to the Rams this past weekend. They’ve also been one of the many teams linked to Houston Texans superstar Deshaun Watson.

Whether the 49ers end up acquiring Kirk Cousins (and the rest of his guaranteed contract) or not, it seems clear that they want new blood under center.

Will any team make a trade for Kirk Cousins this offseason?

Jimmy Garoppolo Would Be Massive Risk for Vikings

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The NFC was taken by storm – Minnesota Vikings included — on Monday when a sly tweet found the forum of Twitter. Behind anonymous sourcing, the hot take involved a trade of Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins to San Francisco for former Patriots Boy Wonder, Jimmy Garoppolo.

One man tweeted the theory – and boom – gridiron wildfire blazed. Various reputable media entities pounced on the “story,” thus giving it legs. So, here it stands.

SPECULATION: The 49ers are pushing hard to acquire Kirk Cousins, per @massey_evan of NFL Analysis. pic.twitter.com/kJGmjvpvBr — SKOR North (@SKORNorth) February 1, 2021

From SKOR North, KFAN, to SB Nation, the Cousins-to-49ers saga was born. The interconnected conduit for the two teams is 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan. He offensively coordinated Kirk Cousins – who was a reservist quarterback at the time – for two full seasons (2012, 2013). It was the Robert Griffin III stint in Washington, and Cousins was mostly an onlooker. Shanahan eventually left for Cleveland (and then Atlanta), and Kirk followed suit (but to Minnesota) four years later.

Because they had a Washingtonian relationship, the men are inherently linked.

Garoppolo’s stock was damn high in 2019. Had similar hubbub transpired at this exact time last year, the fervor around the hypothetical deal would have generated more excitement in VikingsLand. Then again – Cousins had just authored a stunning postseason performance at the Superdome in New Orleans.

The zeal for this transaction by most Vikings faithful is muted. Is Garoppolo better than Cousins? Not statistically. Is he more durable? Nope. What about age? That is the only trait of Garoppolo’s profile that is “better” than Cousins. He is three years younger than the 32-year-old Cousins.

If this bombastic trade deal is legitimate, the Vikings should proceed with caution.

Injury History

The primary knock on Jimmy Garoppolo is health. Not like disease-related – but the ability to remain upright and on the field.

He took the reins of the 49ers franchise as the undisputed starter in 2018 after a successful partial-season trial in 2017 (when his team went undefeated in five games). From 2018 on, Garoppolo has started 25 games of an eligible 48. That means that the Eastern Illinois alumnus has played in 52% of all games in the last three years. Do you want a quarterback with a track record whose availability is half of all games? If you fancy a Sean Mannion-type as the backup signal-caller – as the Vikings do — your body is tense with anxiety right now.

Chatterbox personalities love to savage Dalvin Cook for his injury history. Perhaps they can introduce themselves to Jimmy Garoppolo – who plays a more important position on the field.

Garoppolo may trot somewhere in 2021 and play all 16 (17?) games. He did so in 2019, and the 49ers went to a Super Bowl. Or – he could adhere to his track record and play some of the season. Can the Vikings afford that risk?

Cousins is the opposite – he has never missed an NFL game due to injury.

Garoppolo’s Production is Diet Cousins

Should Garoppolo remain whole, he then must perform at the same level as Cousins or fairly comparable. As of late, he has not done that. To be clear, Garoppolo is not a flimsy passer, but his numbers are dwarfed by Cousins’. And he does not throw the deep ball as effectively as Cousins.

Jimmy Garoppolo v. Kirk Cousins,

Last 32 Starts: Garoppolo–

7,830 Passing Yards

49 Passing TDs

26 INTs

67.7% Comp

99.0 Passer Rating

Sacked = 70

6 Fumbles Lost Cousins–

8,000 Passing Yards

62 Passing TDs

19 INTs

68.0% Comp

105.2 Passer Rating

Sacked = 71

8 Fumbles Lost — Dustin Baker (@DustBaker) February 1, 2021

Garoppolo tosses fewer touchdowns and more picks than Cousins. Period. A pivot to Garoppolo instead of Cousins would be reminiscent of a Bradford or Bridgewater-like solution. Installing a quarterback that does “just enough to win” will not routinely get the job done in 2021’s NFL. Cousins may not be Peyton Manning, but he is more of a fireballer than Garoppolo will ever aspire to be.

A random stat: Cousins has thrown 33 touchdowns of 50+ yards in 104 career starts. Garoppolo has dimed five in 32 starts. All the attacks on Cousins for “dinking and dunking” could easily come to fruition if Garoppolo is handed the keys to the Vikings offense.

Why Don’t the 49ers Want Him?

The Vikings brass should ask themselves – why do the 49ers want to move on from this guy?

It’s likely because of durability — and his underwhelming standalone production inside the 49ers offense. While the Vikings might be able to mask this will a ferocious Mike Zimmer defense, there was no ferocious anything from that Mike Zimmer defense in 2020. Minnesota must enter 2021 with the mindset that defense will be better – but not necessarily terrorists as they were in 2017.

Good defenses can carry teams, undoubtedly. But it is not a forgone conclusion that Minnesota’s defense will return to its Top 5 stardom right away in 2021. Therefore, a player like Kirk Cousins – who authors 30 touchdowns per season on average – is a significantly better commodity to retain. Cousins is not perfect, but he is consistent on a year-to-year basis. He is the only quarterback in the NFL to account for 25+ passing touchdowns in each of the last six seasons.

Garoppolo has thrown more than seven touchdowns in one season during his career. Does Mike Zimmer want to gamble his employment on a “hopefully this guy stays healthy and plays well” game of poker? Doubtful.