Here Come the Cousins Trade Rumors

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Deshaun Watson demanding a trade, along with the Lions making a blockbuster deal sending Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Jared Goff and a couple future first-round picks has fueled speculation about other QB-related deals that could go down this off-season.

After all there are still plenty of QB-needy teams out there, and not enough decent QB prospects in the coming draft to accommodate the demand, so naturally thoughts wander into what other QBs might be available for trade.

Apparently that list includes Kirk Cousins.

#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

This tweet started the speculation, but a quick look into Evan Massey shows that he’s produced a bunch of speculative trade articles, including one a couple weeks ago suggesting the Vikings trade Adam Thielen to the Colts for a 2nd round pick. In other words, this isn’t a confirmed report from a credible source like Ian Rapoport or Tom Pelissero, but simply grist for the rumor mill.

Chris also pointed out that another analyst thinks Cousins will be the 49ers QB next season.

But in fact, the most recent comment from the 49ers, after reportedly having some casual talk during the Senior Bowl with the Lions, and not making an official offer for Stafford, is that they’re planning to move forward with Jimmy Garoppolo. Moreover, there has been no signals from anyone in the Vikings organization that Kirk Cousins may be available- quite the opposite really.

So why the rumors? Well, except for two teams, it’s early in the off-season and not much else to talk about yet, so why not speculate on blockbuster trades to pass the time? That’s clearly one answer. But the other is that there is some basis for other teams to look into trading for Cousins. The question is how far any such discussions might go, what offer might ultimately get Rick Spielman and the Vikings to move Cousins, and whether another team would actually make it.

Why the Vikings Trading Kirk Cousins is Very Unlikely

The first thing Rick Spielman is likely to say if another GM called and asked him about trading Kirk Cousins, is that we’re very happy with Kirk, and he’s under contract with us for the next couple years. And based on both Spielman’s and Mike Zimmer’s comments at the end of the season, there is no reason to doubt that, or that Cousins himself is happy with his situation in Minnesota. So much so that it seems pretty likely that another contract extension will likely be inked between now and the beginning of the league year. Both Spielman and Zimmer like the continuity on offense, and see it as a good thing going forward. Moreover, if they did decide to trade Cousins, who would they get to replace him? A rookie first round draft pick? History suggests less than half of those pan out. What about another veteran QB? Which ones are available in a trade? Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t exactly an upgrade. Yes, Deshaun Watson may be available, and would be an upgrade over Cousins, but it’s unlikely Houston is going to pick up the phone to inquire about Cousins when most of the league is trying to get through on line one with offers for Watson.

And therein lies the answer to what Rick Spielman should, and likely would, demand for Cousins: whatever it takes to acquire Deshaun Watson. Spielman could simply ask Houston what they need for Watson, and that becomes the asking price for Cousins. Because why else would Spielman trade Cousins? Nobody wants to go through the trials and typical 2-3 year learning curve for a promising rookie QB to figure things out, especially when just as often they don’t figure it out, when Cousins is a top 10 quarterback under contract. It doesn’t make sense for the Vikings to make a deal to downgrade the the most important position in professional sports with a lesser veteran either. Yes, Cousins’ contract is expensive, but it’s also not over market value. Jared Goff and Ben Roethlisberger have higher AAV contracts than Cousins, and Carson Wentz is just under him. Deshaun Watson’s AAV is $39 million, second only to Patrick Mahomes.

Of course the problem with asking the same price for Cousins as Houston is asking for Watson is obvious. Why would a team pay the same price for Cousins when they could get Watson? Perhaps a team that saw Cousins as a better fit for them for some reason might do so, and maybe Kyle Shanahan thinks a lot of Cousins and wanted him years ago, and maybe the 49ers feel they need to upgrade the QB position to competitive in their division next season, and Cousins is a bit cheaper, but handing over a boatload of draft picks and/or players for Kirk Cousins or any player hasn’t been 49ers’ GM John Lynch’s modus operandi in the past, and it’s unlikely that changes now either.

The other problem for the Vikings is that a host of teams with tons of draft capital and/or salary cap space are making a run for Deshaun Watson, and one of them may very well complete the deal in the not too distant future, which leaves the only possible QB upgrade for the Vikings off the market. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Miami or the Jets offer the equivalent of 3 first-round picks to acquire Watson, and that’s simply a bridge too far for the Vikings given their salary cap situation and need to replace expensive players in the coming years with quality rookies. Without a quality team around him, Watson isn’t a miracle man. He went 4-12 this season.

Better for the Vikings to Invest in the Rest of the Team

Given all that, it doesn’t make sense for the Vikings to trade Cousins, either by betting the farm on Watson (and having little to build a team around him), or by trading for draft picks and starting over with a top rookie that may or may not work out in the end, and in all likelihood wouldn’t be as good as Cousins is now for at least a few years.

What does make sense is for the Vikings to extend Cousins in a reasonable deal, maybe even convince him to take a Tom Brady, below market deal, now that his family’s financial security is well in hand for generations, provide continuity and stability the rest of his career, and give him and the team a better chance at winning a Super Bowl. In any case, using a signing bonus to push more salary cap into future years when the salary cap will be higher, allowing the Vikings to keep or acquire more talent this coming year.

Football is still a team game after all. Just ask Tom Brady, who threw 3 interceptions in the NFC championship, 73.8 passer rating, and still beat the likely league MVP, Aaron Rodgers with a 101.6 passer rating, on the road, to advance to his 10th Super Bowl, on a below market, $25 million salary.

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.

NFL trade rumors: Are the 49ers pursuing Kirk Cousins?

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Kirk Cousins’ name has been mentioned recently in connection with the annual period of player movements that comes every NFL offseason. The offseason hasn’t even started yet but we’ve already seen a blockbuster trade that sent Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for QB Jared Goff, two future first-round picks, and a third-round pick.

Since then, rumors have come out with offers that other teams had given the Lions in exchange for the veteran QB. None of them topped what the Lions got from the Rams, who now lack a first-round pick until 2024. That says a lot about what the Rams are currently doing, indicating a win-now situation for them.

One of the teams who were reportedly interested in Stafford was the San Francisco 49ers, who are questioning the future of Jimmy Garoppolo. They were unable to secure a deal for Stafford, but they could in the mix for another QB who hasn’t received as much press attention.

The Kirk Cousins connection to Shanahan

The 49ers are reportedly going to try acquiring a quarterback this offseason, and Minnesota Vikings’ QB Kirk Cousins could be on the radar for the team. There have been no reports of Cousins being available to be traded, but then again this is the NFL, where anything is possible.

Cousins first signed a three-year, $84 million contract in 2018, to which the Vikings then added a two-year extension in 2020, leaving him under contract in Minnesota until 2023.

#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

Bringing in Cousins to the 49ers would make perfect sense for the organization, as HC Kyle Shanahan and Cousins have worked together before. Shanahan and Cousins were well-acquainted when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for Washington during a portion of Cousins’ tenure at QB. While Cousins did not see much action during his time with Shanahan, he certainly helped him grow into the QB he is now.

If Cousins were to be made available, the trade package would likely have to include Jimmy Garoppolo since the Vikings are expected to draft a QB with the 14th overall pick this year. On top of that, the 49ers would likely want some extra compensation considering Cousins’ contract is a larger hit on their cap than Garoppolo’s current contract.

Either way, the QB situation will be an interesting one to watch in SF. If this deal doesn’t work out, could Garoppolo be on his way back to New England? It just might happen.