3 NFL teams viewed as ‘most likely’ trade partners for Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins

The Minnesota Vikings are cleaning house this offseason, putting the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins in the spotlight. If the franchise decides to moves its Pro Bowl signal-caller, it’s widely believed there will be an active trade market this spring.

Minnesota is actively looking for its next head coach and general manager. While a regime change doesn’t guarantee the Vikings will look for another quarterback, new leadership typically wants its own face of the franchise. With Cousins entering the final year of his contract and multiple teams in the market for an upgrade at the position, a deal could become even more likely.

While Cousins wouldn’t be the top passer available this offseason, with rival general managers more interested in Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson, there would be a market. The Athletic’s Chad Graff, who covers the Vikings, wrote that four teams stand out as the likeliest trade partners.

Graff writes that the Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos are the likeliest landing spots for Cousins. He would be an affordable option for all three franchises, allowing them to preserve much of their draft capital while improving at quarterback.

  • Kirk Cousins stats (2021): 4,221 passing yards, 103.1 QB rating, 66.3% completion rate, 33-7 TD-INT

What would it cost to acquire Kirk Cousins?

Money would play an important role in negotiations. Cousins is owed $35 million guaranteed next season and his $45 million cap hit becomes fully guaranteed after March 19. Considering the substantial hit on a team’s salary cap, the return for Minnesota would be limited.

The Vikings’ beat writer pointed to the Alex Smith trade in 2018. Washington acquired Smith for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a 2018 third-round pick. While Minnesota’s next general manager might try and push for more, offering to cover a portion of Kirk Cousins’ contract, offloading most of his salary and gaining a late Day 2 pick would be beneficial for the Vikings’ long-term future.

As for replacing Cousins, that would likely come from the 2022 NFL Draft. With this year’s quarterback class particularly thin on high-end talent, the Vikings would likely get their choice from multiple options if they took a passer in the first round.

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