It’s time for the Minnesota Vikings to start making plans for the future, one that includes a 2022 offseason with a Kirk Cousins trade and an organizational reset after another disappointing season.
Cousins will enter 2022 in a contract year, a position he and the Vikings are very familiar with. While the 33-year-old quarterback is playing at a high level, it’s evident he and the Vikings aren’t close to competing for the NFC North title or a Super Bowl.
With that in mind, we examine the best Kirk Cousins trades that would benefit both the star quarterback and his teams.
Kirk Cousins replaces Ben Roethlisberger
Cousins carries a negative reputation compared to his peers, but the criticisms aren’t entirely fair. While the two-time Pro Bowl selection does have some limitations and he struggles on the national stage, he is still playing the position better than most quarterbacks across the NFL.
- Kirk Cousins stats (2021): 274.5 pass yards/game (8th), 54.5 QBR (10th), 66.9% completion rate (14th), 55.0 PFF grade under pressure (13th), 90.5 PFF grade on play action (3rd)
Look at those numbers and compare them to Ben Roethlisberger, who can no longer throw deep and enters Week 16 with a 40.0 QBR. Pittsburgh would love to acquire Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson, but neither are realistic options. As for Deshaun Watson, this franchise won’t get into a bidding war.
Cousins benefits from playing with two great receivers (Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen), but he’d walk into a fantastic supporting cast in Pittsburgh. Surrounded by Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth and Najee Harris, the Steelers could win the AFC North with Cousins under center.
New York Giants roll the dice, cut bait on Daniel Jones
If the New York Giants aren’t willing to launch a complete rebuild this offseason, which is the recommended option, they must upgrade at quarterback. Whether or not the Daniel Jones injury lingers into 2022, the only way to see if New York’s current cast of weapons works is by bringing in a top-tier passer.
- New York Giants trade: Daniel Jones, conditional 2023 third-round pick
- Minnesota Vikings trade: Kirk Cousins
Adding Cousins does a lot of things for New York’s offense. With stability at quarterback, New York can use its two first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft to overhaul the offensive line. Pair two top-12 offensive line prospects with tackle Andrew Thomas and that creates a front that can win its matchups far more often.
A receiving trio of Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney will provide consistency with upside for even more. More importantly, it will become much easier for Saquon Barkley to find lanes to run through and Cousins will happily feed him check-down passes, too.
Cleveland Browns reunite Kevin Stefanski with his quarterback
Maybe Baker Mayfield is right and Kevin Stefanski’s play-calling is the problem. But it didn’t seem to bother him during a strong stretch in the second half of the 2021 season and it made Kirk Cousins a far more efficient passer with the Vikings.
- Kirk Cousins contract: $35 million salary (2022), $45 million cap hit
In his last two seasons with the Washington Football Team, Cousins averaged a 65.7% completion rate, 4.5% touchdown rate and posted a 95.6 passer rating. In two seasons working with Stefanski, Cousins finished with a 69.7% completion rate, a 5.3% touchdown rate, a 103.0 passer rating and a 56-16 TD-INT ratio.
Cleveland should seriously consider a quarterback change in 2022, even if it means sacrificing draft picks. With Cousins returning to Stefanski’s system, the Browns would have a shot to replicate their success from the magical 2020 season.
Denver Broncos pull off Kirk Cousins trade
The Denver Broncos are one of the best teams in the NFL if they have an elite quarterback. If they just add a top-12 passer into the mix, this team can fight with the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills. Denver’s defense is outstanding and it should hold form in 2022. Meanwhile, the cast of playmakers on offense is one of the best in football.
But this team desperately needs to find a quarterback. Cousins isn’t elite, but he raises his game with a great supporting cast. The Broncos don’t have a receiver on Jefferson’s tier, but the collection of Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant and KJ Hamler is deeper than Minnesota’s pass-catchers. Pair that with Javonte Williams, who could become one of the best NFL running backs in 2022, the ingredients are there for an elite offense.
Even if it costs multiple Day 2 picks and eats into the Broncos’ cap space, acquiring Cousins is the right move if this front office can’t land Russell Wilson.