Rumor Mill Says One Team Could Be Off the Board for Kirk Cousins

Turn to One
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

All Minnesota Vikings fans remain on “Kirk Cousins Watch,” waiting to see if the 35-year-old quarterback will return to Minnesota for a seventh season or embark on free agency for the first time since 2018.

Rumor Mill Says One Team Could Be Off the Board for Kirk Cousins

The decision could truly go either way, with Vikings faithful prepared to be unsurprised by either outcome. If Cousins re-ups with the Vikings, most will nod and understand the transaction. Should the Vikings opt to move on, the same folks will shrug and realize the divorce makes sense.

Mill Says One Team
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

And if Cousins hits the open market, two teams labeled as possible suitors include the Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons. Each team needs a productive quarterback, and Cousins is precisely that. But Cousins-to-Pittsburgh might’ve encountered a bit of a roadblock this week, especially if former NFLer Chad Johnson is to be believed.

Johnson said on Shannon Sharpe’s Nightcap show, “A little birdie told me, and I said this many shows ago, Russel Wilson’s coming on over to the Steelers.”

Former Bengals receiver Chad Johnson walks the sideline before the first quarter of the NFL Week 7 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. © Sam Greene, Cincinnati Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

How would this affect Cousins? Straightforwardly. If Johnson is correct and the Steelers onboard Wilson — whose contract will be incredibly cheap because of his current deal’ structure in Denver — Pittsburgh won’t need to spend $35-$50 million on Cousins. In fact, the Steelers could save around $40 million by adding Wilson and excluding themselves from the Cousins sweepstakes.

Pittsburgh employs oodles of playmakers like George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, and Pat Freiermuth, among others, and Cousins could indeed unlock their ceilings. The Steelers’ offense ranked 15th leaguewide in 2023 per offensive DVOA with Kenny Pickett, Mason Rudolph, and Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback. A working theory suggests Cousins’ steady production could nudge that mark into the Top 10.

Fans Should Sneer
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

But the hypothetical won’t matter if the Steelers indeed pick Wilson. The theorized destination for Cousins would be off the table.

Meanwhile, according to sportsbooks, the Falcons quarterback odds shifted this week, too. Per DraftKings, Atlanta has a -130 money line to become Justin Fields’ next employer, as Vegas apparently believes the Falcons will swing a trade for the Chicago Bears’ quarterback while Chicago presumably uses its first overall pick in April’s draft on Caleb Williams (USC) or Drake Maye (North Carolina).

If Vegas knows its stuff regarding Fields and the Falcons, plus Johnson’s birdie is correct about Wilson and the Steelers, Cousins’ free-agent options would severely dwindle.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

That could make his contract offer from the Vikings — whatever that is — more attractive.

NFL free agency begins with “legal tampering” in 19 days.


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).

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