About That Kirk Cousins Trade during the Draft..

Kirk Cousins Beating on the Door of NFL History for 1 Clutch Stat
Aug 27, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

You can dream about a Kirk Cousins trade for [insert player here} until you’re purple in the face, but the numbers during the 2023 NFL Draft don’t really work out.

Cousins has been an unwilling participant in the NFL’s trade rumor mill for about three months — or three years per some sections of the Minnesota Vikings fanbase — and the smoke hasn’t relented this week.

About That Kirk Cousins Trade during the Draft..

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Wednesday morning, “Sources: The 49ers have received inquiries from several teams looking into a potential trade for former No. 3 pick QB Trey Lance. The conversations have been the result of SF fielding the calls, not making them, with teams aware that Brock Purdy is likely the future starter.”

Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and center Garrett Bradbury (56) take practice snaps before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

And that tweet was followed by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio’s revelation, “At this year’s Scouting Combine, there were rumors of a potential Kirk Cousins trade from Minnesota to San Francisco. Those rumors may have come from the reality that the 49ers and Vikings had discussions about another quarterback.”

“Per a league source, the two teams talked about Trey Lance. The source doesn’t know whether that’s currently happening. The Vikings have since restructured the Cousins contract. They’d take a significant cap hit ($38 million) if the Vikings trade Cousins before June 1. But the Vikings need an answer for 2024, and beyond. It’s unclear whether they truly think Lance could be the answer,” Florio continued.

About that kirk
Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warms up before the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

He concluded, “Lance is available. Whether it’s the Vikings or someone else (like the Titans or the Texans), Lance could have a new home for 2023. For his sake, he needs one.”

Naturally, the Rapoport and Florio nuggets sent some into a frenzy, spitballing Cousins to San Francisco — a popular talker since 2020 that never comes to fruition — and Lance to the Vikings. But here’s the deal: if the Vikings want Lance, the trade likely wouldn’t involve Cousins. Trading the 34-year-old isn’t financially feasible.

The Vikings would lose money against the salary cap if they shipped Cousins elsewhere before June 1st. After that date is a different story, but a draft trade with Cousins as the centerpiece right now is hogwash.

Reactions to Win No
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warms up before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

These are the numbers:

  • Cap Savings, Trading Cousins before 6/1 = -$18.5M
  • Cap Savings, Trading Cousins after 6/1 = $10M

The club would intentionally penalize itself to the tune of $28.5 million by trading Cousins before June 1st.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has $1.28 million in cap space as of April 19th, the least in the NFL. He must still pay a draft class, too, which will cost between $5 million and $10 million. But before any draft class signees or any other trades involving Dalvin Cook or Za’Darius Smith, for example, this is the salary cap availability before and after a hypothetical cousins trade:

  • Vikings Cap Space, Trading Cousins before 6/1 = -$17.2M
  • Vikings Cap Space, Trading Cousins after 6/1 = $11.2M

If you want Cousins to depart via trade and think that’s realistic in the first place, circling the summer months is your best bet.

Otherwise, it’s salary cap malarkey.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.