All Signs Point to One Team for Kirk Cousins’ Next Stop

Kirk Cousins Confirms
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Usually, at this time on the offseason calendar, a handful of Minnesota Vikings fans daydream about a Kirk Cousins trade to the San Francisco 49ers. But with that rumor finally dead because of Brock Purdy, a different team has taken center stage for Cousins’ would-be next employer: the Atlanta Falcons.

All Signs Point to One Team for Kirk Cousins’ Next Stop

Cousins is scheduled to hit free agency in about one week and can talk to any team in the league on March 11th when the NFL’s “legal tampering” phase begins. The 35-year-old could still re-sign with the Vikings — Minnesota claims to want him back, but their top-dollar cut-off price is unknown — and an extension would connect Cousins to the Vikings for a seventh season.

Team for Kirk Cousins
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports.

Yet, the rumor mill has turned white hot for Cousins to the Falcons. Through marriage, he has a connection to Atlanta, the Falcons have an offense itching to be unlocked, and quarterbacks of Cousins’ caliber rarely hit free agency. He was on pace for fringe MVP numbers before his Achilles injury last October and is recovering quickly this offseason from the nasty setback.

The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reported Saturday morning after her time at the NFL Combine, “That gets us to Cousins. He is the most valuable player on the market despite an Achilles injury he suffered in October. The Vikings want to retain him, and the 35-year-old has expressed his love for the organization, but history has shown us that Cousins is the best contract negotiator in sports. The question remains how high Minnesota is willing to go to keep the quarterback that coach Kevin O’Connell clearly wants back running his offense.”

Have the Vikings Paid Kirk
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have about $36 million in cap space — the most in about nine years — but it’s unclear if they want to use most of it on Cousins. Of course, the red meat of his next deal could be shoved into void years, but general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah may look to shrink his reliance on void years now that the budget is healthier.

“Over the next month, I’m keeping an eye on the Falcons. They believe Cousins is the type of player who moves them from a fringe playoff team to a contender. New Atlanta head coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Zac Robinson both have familiarity with Cousins. Knowing this could be a seamless transition for Cousins and the talented young group of players across their roster, I expect the Falcons to compete for the rights to his contract. It makes all the sense in the world,” Russini added.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports.

And Russini’s theory isn’t standalone. WSB TV’s Zach Klein said this week about the Falcons’ role in the Cousins sweepstakes, “Everybody I’ve talked to says the logical thing is for them to make a veteran move. All eyes, all arrows, everything points towards Kirk Cousins — and Arthur Blank has basically told his front office that. Do what you’ve got to do, pay what you’ve got to pay, get it done.”

The Falcons’ next quarterback seems like a two-way decision between Cousins and Chicago Bears passer Justin Fields, who will likely be traded in the next eight weeks.

Vikings QB Situation
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

“So, everybody I’ve talked to — agents, other coaches and scouts, guys around the league — that’s the feeling that they are saying. What they are hearing is that the Falcons will put all their attention on Kirk Cousins moving forward. Now, Terry Fontenot is not saying that Raheem Morris is not saying that, but that’s what guys around the league are talking about,” Klein added.

If acquired by Atlanta, Cousins will shove the Falcons to the top of the NFC South per division-winner projections, as the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t considered total powerhouses. Atlanta hasn’t reached the postseason in seven years, so winning the division and waltzing into the postseason might sound irresistible.

Should the Falcons come short in pursuing Cousins, he’ll either re-sign with the Vikings or explore a different free-agent destination like the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, or Las Vegas Raiders, for example.

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