Jimmy Garoppolo Would Be Massive Risk for Vikings

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.

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.

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 with 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.