If Kirk Cousins or Vikings Desire a Trade, These Are the 3 Dance Partners

Playoff Loss Still Stings
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Do you remember last offseason when several teams at a QB1 impasse were in the rumor mill for a theoretical Kirk Cousins trade? For example, if the Minnesota Vikings wanted to trade Cousins with a new general manager in the saddle, the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, etc., were possible trade candidates.

Those teams no longer wish to conduct the veteran-QB experiments or are stuck with their guy due to a fat contract. The Panthers, Colts, Commanders, Texans, and Raiders appear to be finished with half-measured quarterback solutions and will likely use the NFL Draft to find “their guy.”

If Kirk Cousins or Vikings Desire a Trade, These Are the 3 Dance Partners

Therefore, just three teams can reasonably fill the Cousins-trade rumor mill in 2023. And Cousins would have to greenlight the trade, as a no-trade clause was slapped on his extension last year. Also remember — a Cousins trade would result in an $18.75 million dead cap penalty for the Vikings. So, there’s that.

These are the three teams that could entertain a Cousins trade.

New York Jets

If Kirk Cousins or Vikings
Nov 20, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh watches a game against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports.

New York appears near the abrupt finish line with Zach Wilson, who was drafted as the ironclad solution less than two years ago. Too, it is unclear if Robert Saleh and his pals view Mike White as the longterm QB1. Maybe, maybe not.

The Jets roster raised eyebrows in 2022 — in a good way — keeping pace with the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins for most of the season before the Bills separated from the pack. That downfall also coincided with Mike White’s injuries.

If the Jets are not sold on Wilson or White, they could be in the market for a proven passer like Cousins. New York ranks in the middle of the NFL for available salary cap dollars, so a deal could be finagled.

Cousins almost landed with the Jets before joining the Vikings in 2018, a factoid to keep in mind. All Cousins trade theories in January are sketchy but put the Jets on the list if you’re tabulating a list. They have a need — if they don’t trust Wilson or White.

New England Patriots

Vikings Complementary Players Must Step Up Thursday
Oct 30, 2022; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick before the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports.

Mac Jones was the NFL’s 25th-best quarterback in 2022, and folks just sort of shrug shoulders and say, “Oh, well.” In a year when Jones should’ve improved, he regressed and was often shown looking sour on the sidelines.

Patriots skipper Bill Belichick is about to turn 71 years old and probably wants to win now. Belichick could win with Cousins — you better believe it. New England has over $55 million in cap space, making a hypothetical Cousins to New England transaction extremely feasible.

Does Belichick think he can return to the postseason with a moody Jones? If the answer is no, Cousins checks many boxes here.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jan 8, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) passes the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

Tom Brady is the domino. Subtle indicators point to his exodus via free agency or retirement. But Brady’s possible departure doesn’t mean the Buccaneers roster is lackluster. With or without the greatest football player of all time, Tampa Bay is built to win now. It has wide receivers galore, a defense, and a recent winning culture.

The problem here is cap maneuverability. The Buccaneers salary cap looks worse than the bad Vikings offseason projections that became commonplace in the last five years. Capologists would have to be creative to get Cousins down to Florida.

If Brady bolts, though, the Buccaneers roster is still constructed to contend. Who will they execute that mission with at quarterback? Kyle Trask? Derek Carr? Cousins?

There’s also a chance the Baltimore Ravens could be interested, but that would require a full divorce from former MVP Lamar Jackson, which seems unlikely as of January 17th.

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).