So long as Kirk Cousins is the Minnesota Vikings quarterback, trade pitter-patter is imminent in the offseason. If Cousins and the Vikings win the Super Bowl or simply reach the event, then the speculation might die down. Until then, get used to this annual gossip cycle.
The lack of contentment is derived from Cousins’ win-loss record. As a starter, his quarterback record is 51-51-2 (.500) – exactly average. Cousins is compensated as the league’s seventh-highest passer, so folks expect him to single-handedly deliver at least the seventh-best record in the NFL each season. Of course, this quarterback-record philosophy holds accountable just one man – the quarterback – while blatantly disregarding 52 other men on the quarterback’s football team.
Throughout Roger Federer’s tennis career, imagine onlookers pinpointing the rest of Switzerland’s players’ records instead of Federer’s standalone mark. That is in the inverse lunacy of holding a quarterback solely responsible for wins and losses in a team sport. Why doesn’t Federer makes his countrymen better? He plays in an individual sport for God’s sake. That is how strangely that quarterback-record zealots do business.
Cousins has been theorized in phantom trade packages already this offseason to the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, and Houston Texans. Sources familiar with the situation tell Vikings Territory that the trade talk is not real. It is fabricated smoke with no fire. Here’s why.
The Heat of the Moment
Last offseason, several quarterbacks changed locations organically. Contracts were up, folks were on the move, and the excitement was palpable. This year, the names on the free-agency list are underwhelming. Aside from Dak Prescott – who will likely stay in Dallas – quarterbacks like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, and Mitchell Trubisky headline the festivities. In 2020, it was Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, and Teddy Bridgewater. 2020 was the year of the starter for free agency. 2021 is the year of the damn-good QB2.
Times have temporarily changed.
So, to fill the need of quarterback turnover that general managers evidently covet, the 2021 offseason is the year of the trade. Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff already swapped houses. Deshaun Watson is amid the process of forcing his departure, hell or high water. Carson Wentz is the next man up.
Why not throw Cousins in the mix for cheap heat? That is why this is happening. Cousins is a Top 12 quarterback via statistical production and – believe it or not – many general managers and coaches enjoy his skill set. These men in gridiron leadership may not have the eye for talent that John Does on couches possess, but it’s a toss-up.
Sarcasm aside, Cousins was careened into this quarterback trade talk because he has a large contract and the national opinion of him is not pristine. Therefore, when folks look around the league and say “who might be next,” well, there’s Cousins. Truth can be adjusted.
Agents spread narratives to benefit players and themselves. Period.
There is indeed a link between Cousins and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. The men spent two seasons together when Cousins entered the NFL in Washington. Cousins watched as Robert Griffin III torched the league for 15 minutes. Shanahan eventually left for Cleveland, Atlanta, and later San Francisco while Cousins stayed in the nation’s capital through 2017. From then on, the Shanahan and Cousins have encountered a twosome media-driven magnetism.
The 49ers are not eternally married to Jimmy Garoppolo. He has tossed over seven touchdowns passes during a season just once in his career. In the other seasons, he is usually hurt and thus unreliable. Cousins is the antithesis – he has never missed a professional football game due to injury.
San Francisco is sending pigeons to communicate their growing malcontent with Garoppolo. Plopping Cousins’ name in trade talks effectively creates hype. In the off-chance that the Vikings are open to dealing – boom – there is a pipeline for communication. If Minnesota is not interested, at least the NFL world knows the 49ers are in the hunt for some quarterback other than their own.
Think of it as an invitation to barter.
Cousins, Vikings Have Never Indicated Interest
Cousins told Pro Football Talk this week that he’d prefer to remain a Viking for the remainder of his career. He has plans to play well into his late-30s and commended Tom Brady and Drew Brees for setting the standard for 40-something success. The takeaway here: Cousins is creating zero trade narratives.
Head coach Mike Zimmer explicitly stated a few days ago that Cousins is “our guy.” Zimmer does not play word games. When he is not sold on a quarterback or player, he is wildly noncommittal. Check out any commentary ever he’s offered on kickers. Or recall his verbiage on Case Keenum in 2017 – very dithering. The takeaway here: Zimmer is creating zero trade narratives. He, in fact, went out of his way to quell them.
General Manager Rick Spielman has made no mention about ridding the team of Cousins – the player he personally plucked to get the team over the top after the 2017 NFC Championship.
The takeaway here: The trade talk is not real.