It takes two to tango (at least that’s what I’m told). If the Minnesota Vikings are actually serious about trading Kirk Cousins (they aren’t), then they’ll need a trade partner. Most of the trade rumors usually come down to Kirk Cousins and Kyle Shanahan. They worked together in Washington and had some success. It’s well-known that Shanahan would have loved to snag Cousins, but the deal for Jimmy Garoppolo ended that possibility.
I’ve already expressed my skepticism about the Vikings making a move. Toward the beginning of the season, this is what I had to say: “In spite of what their 1-4 record suggests, the Vikings aren’t that far off from competing.” We can adjust those numbers and basically come to the same conclusion. In spite of what the 7-9 record suggests, the Vikings actually aren’t that far off.
My personal skepticism aside, I decided to reach out to 49ers Webzone for some wisdom. Their editors directed me to one of their writers, Levin T. Black (who you can follow on Twitter @LTBlackNiners). In essence, my aim was to get a sense for how plausible it was from SF’s side of things (two to tango). Below you’ll find my questions and the answers. Perhaps they’ll provide some clarity on the Kirk Cousins trade rumors.
Q1: I see on Over the Cap that SF can move on from Garoppolo with relative ease, only leaving behind less than $3 million in dead money. Do you think the 49ers will move on from him? Should they?
Jimmy Garoppolo is the 49ers fall back option. That’s what I see. The team is talking as if he’s the guy in order to not burn the bridge in case the team strikes out on finding an upgrade. Make no mistake, they will pursue vets and they will pursue a top QB in the draft if they can’t get a vet.
The team has a window to win now though. They will hang on to Jimmy just in case they can’t acquire a top vet or draft pick. Those things are easier said than done.
It’s the correct move. Jimmy is a good enough QB that finding an upgrade isn’t easy but he’s not good enough that you don’t search for one.
Q2: Would moving on from Garoppolo be enough to make the finances work with Cousins? Next season (again, per OTC), KC will come with a $31 million cap hit (which is actually quite modest compared to his $45 million number in 2022). What sort of financial gymnastics need to happen to make this reasonable for SF?
Some of the $31 million cap hit for Cousins would stay with the Vikings. The acquiring team in a trade scenario would only have a $21 million cap hit.
For the 49ers, this means they can move on from Jimmy and save a few million in cap space in 2021 with Cousins.
Like 2021, the 2022 cap hit is lower for the acquiring team due to signing bonus money staying with the Vikings cap. Cousins would cost $35 million in 2022 for the new team.
Obviously, the $35 million cap hit in 2022 isn’t great but that’s the going rate for QB’s now. With the cap likely rebounding significantly in 2022 following Covid, the 49ers can easily afford him.
Q3: Is the connection between Kyle Shanahan and KC overblown, or is there an actual desire there to work with Cousins?
The Kyle Shanahan love for Cousins is enormous. It’s been reported Kyle was sad when the trade for Jimmy happened because he knew it meant Cousins was out. Kyle has also admitted that he was so set on Cousins that he didn’t really evaluate the 2017 QB class that included Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes because he planned to sign Cousins a year later.
Q4: In your mind, what/who would SF be willing to part with to make it happen?
I don’t think the 49ers would part with too much to acquire Cousins. I’d be shocked if they included one [of] their top young players. Bosa is never, ever happening.
I think Jimmy and a 3rd round pick is what you’re looking at. Maybe a 2nd. A 1st would surprise me a good bit.
Q5: Fill in the blank: SF’s fans would be ________ if the team actually traded for Cousins?
Niner fans would be unhappy if the team traded for Cousins. There’s some animosity towards Cousins because of the Kyle quote about not evaluating Watson or Mahomes in the 2017 draft.
Cousins is seen as an above average starting QB who is a bad leader and thus not someone worth trading for. I think most of the NFL sees him that way.
Editor’s Note: Levin T. Black’s answers are published with his permission. On behalf of TVG, I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to both Levin and 49ers Webzone for being so helpful with these questions about the Kirk Cousins trade rumors. Be sure to follow Levin (@LTBlackNiners) and 49ers Webzone (@49erswenzone) on Twitter. You should also take a look around their site.