Only 2 Teams Would REALISTICALLY Trade for Kirk Cousins

3 Takeaways from Vikings
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs onto the field before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The moment Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon, the NFL’s everpresent rumor mill suggested Kirk Cousins could be traded to the New York Jets if the Minnesota Vikings season went pear-shaped.

Then, the Vikings season went pear-shaped.

Only 2 Teams Would REALISTICALLY Trade for Kirk Cousins

Minnesota lives in the NFC’s basement at 0-3, hoping to resurrect its season but with unclear expectations as to whether that’s even possible.

The Jets, too, are struggling, so by the time the Vikings, in theory, would be ready to trade Cousins, New York’s season could be in the tank at 1-5 or so, nullifying the need for Cousins because New York’s season would already be dead in the water.

Moreover, would New York really sink more high-round draft capital into old quarterbacks? Probably not.

Therefore, these are the realistic trade destinations for Cousins — if Minnesota is remotely interested in trading in him in the first place.

New England Patriots

Bill Belichick’s team is 1-2 through three weeks with an upcoming schedule that suggests it could be around 3-3 by the start of Week 7, which is conveniently when the Cousins trade rumor mill will catch fire if the Vikings still have a horrid record.

Only 2 Teams Would
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick walks off the field at Ray Nitschke Field following joint practice with the Green Bay Packers. August 17, 2023. © Kassidy Hill / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Mac Jones ranks near the middle of the pack in the NFL’s quarterback pecking order, and the team allegedly explored trading him before the 2023 NFL Draft. Jones ranks 21st per EPA+CPOE through three games, outranked by players like C.J. Stroud, Andy Dalton, and, of course, Kirk Cousins.

If Jones’ current production continues — a generalized meh — Cousins would undoubtedly improve Belichick’s roster. The Patriots also have a 1st-Round pick in April’s draft to play with, unlike the aforementioned Jets, a team that will have to barter with 2025 draft capital.

Aug 19, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) at the line of scrimmage against the Carolina Panthers in the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings wouldn’t need to take Jones in the trade — few fans would want that — but high-round draft capital would do the trick. And again, this is if the Vikings are even side-eye interested in trading Cousins at all — probably not.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on Cousins + the Patriots next March because New England may be done with the Jones Era, and Cousins will be available free of trade capital, able to sign anywhere in the nation via free agency if he doesn’t return to Minnesota.

San Francisco 49ers

One circumstance would pave the way for this possibility — an injury to Brock Purdy in the next 4-5 weeks. The 49ers appear to have found the real deal in Purdy, an honest-to-goodness Mr. Irrelevant.

Feb 9, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan pose for a photo during a press conference at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports.

It is absolutely no secret that 49ers skipper Kyle Shanahan loves Cousins; he’s said it out loud. Moreover, this 2023 regular season is shaping up as a storybook year for San Francisco that can only be canceled by a Purdy injury, which occurred in last year’s postseason.

Cousins would fit like a glove in Shanahan’s offense and has already done so with Shanahan’s tutelage in Washington.

Old Team a Cautionary
Dec 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in action during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Redskins defeat the Bears 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

San Francisco might give Sam Darnold a brief audition in the event of a Purdy injury, but as soon as he started playing like Sam Darnold, Cousins could be too irresistible for trade.

Generally speaking, a Cousins trade to anywhere is unlikely because the Vikings will consider the season salvageable. But a 1-6 Vikings team, if they get there, would be a different ball of wax.

Watch New England and San Francisco if trade-Cousins rumors become more than fleeting internet guesswork.

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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