NFL Execs Linked Kirk Cousins to SF at Combine

Oddsmakers Forecast 'Typical' Year for Kirk Cousins
Nov 22, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, league executives were talking about a Kirk Cousins trade to the San Francisco 49ers at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“Apparently, at the scouting combine, there was some chatter, there was some noise, among people within the broader league structure, not the media, but people in the league about Cousins being traded to the 49ers,” Florio said. “That was a hot topic at one point in Indianapolis.”

NFL Execs Linked Kirk Cousins to SF at Combine

Minnesota’s offseason moves have indicated that 2023 will be Cousins’ last in purple after General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah neglected to extend the Pro Bowl quarterback. Cousins’ camp was reportedly interested in exploring a discounted long-term extension.

NFL Execs Linked
Feb 5, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; NFC quarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings (8) throws the ball against the AFC during the Pro Bowl Games at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After Cousins received the first fully-guaranteed contract in NFL history, which was for three years, $84 million, it was followed by multiple extensions that kept the team hostage financially. This time, Adofo-Mensah has decided to restructure Cousins instead of extending him to lower his cap number and hit the free agent market in 2024.

Kirk Cousins being traded to the San Francisco 49ers has been rumored for years because of his relationship with head coach Kyle Shanahan from their time together in Washington.

In 2017, before San Francisco acquired Jimmy Garoppolo, the original plan was to wait until free agency and sign Cousins as the team’s next quarterback. Shanahan has reportedly coveted Cousins for years and has often labeled him as his prototypical quarterback that he looks for.

4th Straight Offseason
Feb 2, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan during Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

“I thought we’d have a chance to get him here in free agency and I would have loved to have him in free agency until Jimmy came along the year before,” Shanahan said in March 2021. “I thought we could have won with him, just like Minnesota has.”

Figuring out a trade between the two teams financially can become quite complicated, but if a trade were to be in the works, it would need to take place post-June 1. Minnesota can free up $10 million in cap space by moving Cousins after post-June 1 instead of now.

If the 49ers acquire Cousins, they would only be on the hook for his $10 million base salary, which could be appealing since Brock Purdy’s $724,252 cap hit. Cousins could be a one-year stopgap for the team as Purdy wouldn’t be forced to rush back from his torn UCL, which required offseason surgery.

San Francisco currently has around $3 million in cap space, so a few restructures would need to be done prior to the move, but another option could be sending former third overall pick Trey Lance back in return to Minnesota. The team could free up close to $3 million by sending Lance in the deal.

Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, OH, USA; North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance appears on the Red Carpet at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame before the first round of the 2021 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Cleveland. Mandatory Credit: David Dermer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports.

Lance, a Marshall, Minnesota native, would fit in Minnesota’s reset window as they look for its heir apparent to life after Cousins. Bringing Lance back home to Minnesota could also make for a good story since he grew up a Vikings fan. 

Unfortunately, Lance’s career has been derailed by injuries, forcing him only to have four career games started under his belt, but Minnesota is in position to take a chance on a player such as Lance without having any of their own draft capital invested in him.

Adofo-Mensah has targeted low-risk, high-reward trades for former first-round picks that didn’t seem to pan out with their original team and acquired players looking for fresh starts, such as tight end TJ Hockenson, wide receiver Jalen Reagor, and defensive lineman Ross Blacklock.

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah who was hired in January 2022 after the club parted ways with Rick Spielman. The Vikings finished 13-4 in Adofo-Mensah’s first season as general manager.

Brock Purdy led the 49ers to the NFC Championship game last season, but his return to the field is still unknown. The team signed Sam Darnold to a one-year, $4 million deal to compete with Lance in training camp, so their quarterback room is in flux right now.

Acquiring a player like Cousins fits the 49ers win now window, as they’ve been a quarterback away for years. If General Manager John Lynch wants to upgrade and solidify the position for good, Cousins might be the most feasible option on the market.