Primary Suitor for Kirk Cousins in Same Situation as Vikings

Your Stomach
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In about five days, Minnesota Vikings fans will likely learn the free-agent outcome of “Kirk Cousins watch,” a saga that began in January when the offseason arrived. The Atlanta Falcons are the odds-on favorite to sign Cousins if he departs Minnesota, and interestingly, the Vikings and Falcons are basically in the same boat.

The Vikings and Falcons Can Do the Spider-Man Meme

For starters, Pro Football Talk reported Monday night that the Falcons were trending as the favorites to grab Cousins in free agency. Mike Florio opined, “We can’t get into the specifics, for now. But we’re getting very credible indications that Cousins is seriously considering moving his family to Atlanta. Which would mean, obviously, that he’d be signing with the Falcons. The Falcons have always been the top alternative to the Vikings for Cousins, who becomes an unrestricted free agent next Wednesday.”

Vikings and Falcons
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Vegas odds then flipped — it is unclear if that change had anything to do with the PFT article — and the Falcons are now favored to sign Cousins, not the Vikings.

And while it may be down to a two-horse race between Minnesota and Atlanta, the two clubs have eerily similar situations to ponder regarding the Cousins acquisition. Foremost, both teams have the offensive weaponry and firepower to woo the 35-year-old. Pick your fighter: Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson — or Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, and Drake London. If the choice is Atlanta or Minnesota, Cousins won’t be deprived of playmakers.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

Then, there’s the money angle. Cousins will fetch a fat contract — few things are as certain in sports as Cousins breaking the bank — and as of March 6th, this is the cap space availability for Minnesota and Atlanta:

  • Vikings Cap Space = $37,116,005
  • Falcons Cap Space = $37,457,401

You see? It’s the Spider-Man meme.

Leverage May Not
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But that’s not all. Picking yes or no on Cousins also involves the alternative: drafting a rookie quarterback. The Vikings own the draft’s 11th overall pick; the Falcons are scheduled to pick eighth. Both franchises must decide if signing on for the veteran Cousins experience, with his 4,000+ passing yards and 30+ touchdowns as the crow flies, makes the most sense for its 2024-and-beyond plans. Cousins will turn 36 in August and is recovering from a torn Achilles. No matter what, sliding him a mammoth satchel of cash is a risk.

In that vein — Cousins or a rookie passer — the Vikings and Falcons are also joint J.J. McCarthy Fan Club members. Whichever team doesn’t sign Cousins could identify McCarthy as its alternative and hope to select the Wolverine with its eighth or 11th draft pick.

USA Today’s Lorenzo Reyes warned this week about a Cousins learning curve in Atlanta if he signs with the Falcons, “Despite similarities in system and philosophy, it would still take some time to acclimate to his new teammates, new facility, new everything. And Cousins would still be leaving an environment in which he had instant success; in his two seasons playing under O’Connell, Cousins completed 67.1% of his throws for 6,878 yards, with 47 touchdowns against 19 interceptions. A transition to Robinson is a transition nonetheless.”

Mock Draft Attaches
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So, for posterity, this checks out because if one polls any Vikings fan about the best and worst Cousins seasons in Minnesota, most will nominate 2018, Cousins’ first in Minnesota, as his worst. Based on how he meticulously prepares, it may take Cousins more than a year to totally take off, as was the case for the Vikings six years ago.

Overall, when examining the Vikings’ pros and cons regarding Cousins’ future, copy and paste them for the Falcons.

It’s also worth wondering if the Falcons possibly reaching the playoffs in a weak division is an “accomplishment enough” for Raheem Morris’ team in 2024. Atlanta hasn’t visited the postseason since 2017, and Minnesota has made the trek thrice.

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