What Does Stafford Trade Mean for Kirk Cousins Rumors?

Vikings
image courtesy of Vikings.com

Interest is piqued in Minnesota Vikings echo chambers when a player like Detroit’s Matthew Stafford is traded. It happened on Saturday night.

The Los Angeles Rams sent two 1st-Rounders, a 3rd-Rounder, and [oh, by the way] a franchise quarterback, Jared Goff, to Detroit for the 32-year-old Stafford’s services. Goff’s hefty contract now lands on the ledger of the Detroit Lions and so do three coveted future draft picks. For the Rams, Stafford offers the team a sturdy thrower of the football – the first of its kind that the Rams have experienced since 2018 with, yes, Jared Goff. To be clear, Goff was not bad in 2019 or 2020, but his production was dwarfed by 2018 – a Super Bowl runner-up campaign for the Rams.

Whether it is authentic or conjured, some Vikings faithful believe Kirk Cousins is fair game to meet a similar trade fate. Cousins has played astutely in Minnesota, locking down the quarterback position for three consecutive seasons – an extreme rarity since Fran Tarkenton retired 43 years ago. Since Cousins joined Minnesota in 2018, he has the fifth-most passing touchdowns leaguewide (91) and the NFL’s seventh-best passer rating, 103.6 (min. 1000 pass attempts). He also ranks sixth in NFL history for passer rating (97.9). Unbelievably, none of those statistical parameters are profound enough for the anti-Cousins crowd.

So, how the heck can the Vikings move on from him? And now with the Stafford news, what could the Vikings conceivably receive in compensation for a Cousins trade?

No Tangible Proof Cousins on the Trade Block

Foremost – and this is vitally important – there is no palpable evidence anywhere that general manager Rick Spielman is attempting to finagle a Cousins trade. Any talk of Cousins’ departure to the San Francisco 49ers or Houston Texans is hackneyed hearsay.

The Vikings most stable quarterback in the last 30 years was Daunte Culpepper. His career was unceremoniously altered in 2005 when he ravaged his leg during a game against the Carolina Panthers. He never returned to the Vikings. After Culpepper, Minnesota has interwoven rookie options at quarterback like Tarvaris Jackson, Christian Ponder, and Teddy Bridgewater — with veteran names like Brett Favre, Sam Bradford, and Case Keenum. In Minnesota, quarterback continuity is as elusive as sleep for an insomniac.

When Cousins was acquired three years ago, he verifiably brought that continuity, stability, and consistency to the quarterback position. Spielman would concede that his remedy was a mistake if he dealt Cousins to another franchise. That is not impossible, but it is wildly improbable – especially when his quarterback averages 30 touchdown passes per season with the team.

Stafford is a Darling, Cousins is Not

If one can hop over the implausibility hurdle and still assert that Cousins is trade bait, then comparisons to the Stafford trade are indeed in-bounds. The Rams sent a franchise-reshaping slew of assets to Detroit for Stafford, so naturally the “what about Cousins?” riff-raff dribbles out of the woodwork.

Stafford is a media and football darling. Since his selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, a cloud of “Detroit better not screw this up, too” has euphemistically followed his career trajectory. When Detroit has a downtrodden season – there are several – Stafford is unaccountable. A new coach, a better defense, a productive running back, and more weapons are the criterion assigned in explaining how Stafford was wronged. It is an Aaron Rodgers Palsy. The Packers have won just one Super Bowl since Rodgers took control of the franchise from Brett Favre. And every year that Rodgers’ team fails to win another Super Bowl, all non-Rodgers culprits are blamed with laser-like pinpointing. Stafford gets a dialed-back stack of the same empathy.

In no way, shape, or form on God’s green earth does Kirk Cousins receive this latitude. He’s labeled a dink-dunk, garbage-time, 8-8 quarterback for his troubles. The treatment of him by the media and masses is the antithesis of that showered on Stafford and Rodgers.

For that reason – Cousins would not command a trade haul as perpetrated by the Rams to Lions for Stafford.

Maybe a 2nd-Rounder and Something Else

Perhaps – a very pronounced longshot – the Vikings could land a 2nd-Rounder and something like a 4th-Rounder for Cousins. That depends on how needy the hypothetical suitor gets. Most NFL teams have a starting quarterback or a plan to draft one this April. Teams that could maybe enter the hunt for a man like Cousins are the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, or Indianapolis Colts. The Cousins-to-Houston chatter here is moot because Cousins would be a footnote to any transaction that sent Deshaun Watson to Minnesota.

Trades in the NFL are whimsical. DeAndre Hopkins was jettisoned to Arizona in a self-sabotage deal by the Texans last year. The return was a 2nd-Round pick, a 4th-Round pick, and David Johnson. Stafford was just swapped for two 1st-Rounders, a 3rd-Rounder, and Jared Goff. That deserves a ¯\_()_/¯.

Cousins will likely not be traded, and this Stafford deal does not move profusely move the needle on the theoretical reimbursement.