Cold Water Dumped on 2024 Kirk Cousins Theory

5 Vikings Players Who
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) reacts after being short of yardage against Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins will become a free agent for the first time in six years next March — if general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah doesn’t extend the man beforehand.

Cousins turns 35 this summer and will encounter a contract year in 2023.

Cold Water Dumped on 2024 Kirk Cousins Theory

And if Cousins hits open free agency, the San Francisco 49ers figure to become an automatic suitor for his services, especially if the 49ers 2023 campaign doesn’t end with a Super Bowl win or appearance.

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Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) prepares to snap the ball to quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the first quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said in 2021 about Cousins, his former coworker, “To say that my prototypical guy is someone like Kirk Cousins. I mean, that’s just, everyone knows my history with Kirk. We drafted him in the 4th round in Washington.”

“I got to coach him for three games. And then, we were fired, I left, I thought we’d have a chance to get him [in San Francisco] in free agency, and I would have loved to have him in free agency until Jimmy came along the year before. Because I thought we could have won with him, just like Minnesota has,” Shanahan added.

Cold Water Dumped
Oct 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay meets with San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan following the game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports.

So, the theory suggests Shanahan could pursue Cousins if the Trey Lance | Brock Purdy | Sam Darnold quarterback sandwich doesn’t work this season.

Not everybody is buying it, though.

The Athletic’s Matt Barrows dumped cold water on the Cousins-to-49ers last week. “[The 49ers] probably have to rethink the way they’ve organized their salary cap. The other reason this seems unlikely — at least, for now — is Brock Purdy. Yes, Shanahan loves Cousins. He has championed Cousins, now 34, since he was Washington’s offensive coordinator in 2012, the year Washington chose the quarterback in the fourth round. But he suspects he now has a younger, cheaper and more mobile version of Cousins in Purdy, who is 11 years younger,” Barrow explained.

Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) and quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in action during the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Cousins ranks fourth in touchdown passes since joining the Vikings five years ago and fifth in passing yards. He also tied an NFL record last season for the most game-winning drives in a single season.

Barrows continued, “Purdy, of course, is largely unproven. And he has suffered big injuries (oblique/elbow) in two of his eight career starts. Cousins, on the other hand, has been remarkably healthy in starting either all or all but one game in each of the last eight seasons.”

Jan 29, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

If San Francisco is undone once again by quarterback injuries, targeting Cousins and his never-missed-a-game-to-injury durability may be too irresistible — is the alternative working theory.

It’s just that Barrows — who’s covered the 49ers for 20 years — isn’t buying it. “So if Purdy gets hurt again and both Lance and Sam Darnold falter as replacements, I can see Shanahan rekindling his interest in Cousins. But he’s certainly not Plan A like he was back in 2017,” he concluded.

Shanahan has employed a consistently healthy passer one time in his 49ers tenure. That was 2019 with Jimmy Garoppolo, and incidentally, the 49ers reached the Super Bowl that season. Funny how that works.

On the whole, however, if you’re banking on Cousins to The Bay as an inevitability, Barrows formally advises against it.

Cousins has been linked to the 49ers in the unofficial rumor mill for about 3-4 years.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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