Minnesota has a huge looming issue on their team. They have spent massive amounts of money at the QB position to bring in and retain Kirk Cousins, who has helped produce just 1 winning season since joining the Vikings despite a supporting cast that has included Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Justin Jefferson, Kyle Rudolph, and more. He was supposed to be the missing piece on an offense that couldn’t get out of its own way at times, however the Vikings are realizing that with Cousins comes a large price tag which in turn will affect the rest of your roster construction and ultimately you will see what is happening now in Minnesota where the team has a bunch of top end talent at certain positions but poor drafting or lack of development on defense has prevented them from providing the aid the offense needs to win games consistently.
In order to fix this issue in a draft year that isn’t exactly promising, they could seek out a trade that would make sense for both parties involved. The question is what other teams would be willing to part with their starting quarterback to acquire Cousins? Also how many of these players would Minnesota really be interested in acquiring? The names of the teams on this list will come at no surprise, with Denver, Houston, Miami, Seattle, Las Vegas, and the Giants, all gracing this list.
Some of these teams can be eliminated fairly easily. The three main teams that I don’t see making sense here are Seattle, Las Vegas, and New York. Personally I don’t see Cousins as an improvement over Carr in Vegas. To me they are essentially the same style quarterback, but Carr has had less to work with on his supporting cast. In Seattle I honestly think they would have a hard time swallowing the large cap number especially because Wilson’s cap number is currently smaller than Cousins, and in New York I simply think they aren’t ready to pull the plug on Daniel Jones because at times he has flashed talent.
That brings me to my three most likely teams starting with Houston. Houston as we know has an ugly situation going on with its elite QB Deshaun Watson who is in the midst of a legal situation that has yet to be resolved. However Watson signed a 4 year contract extension that would pay him $35 million in base salary with a $5 million signing bonus. Yes this would account for just over $40 million in cap hits for the Vikings but in this scenario they would still be saving around $6.5 million in 2022 that could be allocated elsewhere. They also trade away a QB heading into the final year of his deal, and gain one that is signed until 2025 on a deal that drops in yearly salary from 2022 until its conclusion in 2025. This means you’re locking in a cheaper, younger, more mobile, and arguably more elite quarterback for 4 more seasons. There is one obstacle on his contract, a $17 million roster bonus in 2023. But even with this insane bonus he would count for just $42 million in cap hits that season. However if the Vikings use some cap magic and convert his roster bonus, and some of his yearly salary to bonuses they could spread the cap hit out over the length of the contract thus saving a large chunk of money specifically in 2023.
Meanwhile the Texans get a qb they can rely on, and who can start for a year until they can draft another QB worth their while, or mentor Davis Mills who they drafted in the 3rd round in 2021 draft. Cousins would help them move on from an ugly divorce with their young QB and serve as the perfect bridge QB to whoever they choose to be the next face of the franchise. On top of this I believe that sending Cousins to Houston would essentially count for a minimum of a first round pick and more. The rumored cost of Watson is 3 first round picks and possibly some mid round picks to sweeten the deal. So maybe Minnesota sends Houston Cousins, their 2022 1st round pick, and a 2023 first or second round pick. This could potentially be enough of a return for Houston to make the move while it would serve to save cap space, and solidify the QB position for years to come in Minnesota.
If Minnesota is more keen on acquiring picks and not wanting to divvy out picks with their quarterback the next logical choice would be Denver. In Denver they have Drew Lock, and Teddy Bridgewater. Currently Bridgewater is an unrestricted free agent in 2022, but this could be a sign and trade type scenario. Assuming the Vikings want to reacquire Bridgewater as a stop gap starter to get them to the 2023 draft, or at least give Kellen Mond another year to develop. Bridgewater came to Denver via a trade that saw them send Carolina a 6th round pick, and foot $7 million of a revised 1 year contract that would make him a free agent after the 2021 season. After this move Bridgewater had what amounted to a solid year statistically but led the Broncos to a 7-7 record in 14 starts. Despite coming to Denver having set career highs in completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns he also managed to throw the most interceptions he had since his rookie year. In Denver his completion rate wasn’t the 69.1% high he set in 2020 but he still managed to complete 66.9% of his passes for 3,052 yards, 18 tds (a career high), 9 ints (3 less than the year before), but also didn’t account for the 5 rushing tds he had in 2020 accounting for just 2 with Denver. Long story short Bridgewater proved that he is a solid bridge quarterback but will never be anymore than that or a top flight backup. However Minnesota has tremendous playmakers around him on offense, and saving a conservative $30 million over the $46 million cost of Kirk Cousins would allow them the capitol to target some defensive help to shore up a defense that has rated terribly as of late. Building a good foundation before turning the team to a new QB would be a way of providing the right circumstances for a young QB to succeed in 2023 and beyond. However sending Minnesota Bridgewater would only be a part of the compensation package in return for Cousins. In this scenario the Broncos happily send Minnesota their 2023 first round pick, which Minnesota covets for ammunition to replace their QB or build around Mond, and a 3rd round pick in 2022. This trade would be similar to but slightly pricier than the Carson Wentz trade, however that’s to be expected with Cousins’s consistent play. Also George Paton is intimately familiar with Cousins, and would likely immediately start working on a contract extension for Cousins. He then could also pick his brain on coaching candidates being that there are whispers Klint Kubiak could be a dark horse candidate for a head coaching job in Denver where he is very familiar with George Paton from their time together in Minnesota, as well as everyone in Denver from his and his father’s time as a coach and player. Fans once wanted the son of Mike Shanahan how about the next vest thing, the son of your most recent Super Bowl winning head coach, fresh with a QB he knows well.
Miami is the least likely of these three trade scenarios as they seem to be in the hunt for Watson, signaling to me they want a younger QB with a long term future in the league. However Tua’s name has come up in previous trade scenarios so there is a chance that he could be dangled along with draft picks say a 1st in 2022, and 2nd in 2023 in a compensation package to acquire Cousins. Flores watched the ultimate game manager in Tom Brady lead New England to success over and over again,maybe he see’s Cousins as a similar style player just with a much higher price tag. Tua would offer Minnesota a starting option in 2022 and beyond who would then compete with Mond and Mannion in 2022. He has struggled at times but is talented enough that he was a first round pick just a few seasons ago. He is still on a rookie deal which would cut nearly $40 million in cap space for the 2022 season that Minnesota can then use to build its defense.
Ultimately if Kirk is traded I truly believe Denver is the most likely destination. Denver was said to be all in on the Aaron Rodgers sweepstakes, but if they lose out on Rodgers bringing in Cousins who is no slouch, and has experience with the GM, makes a lot of sense. Also he would be reuniting with former teammate Mike Boone who could be taking a bigger role in 2022 when he returns from injury with Melvin Gordon a free agent this offseason. Denver could also prove to be the most complete team he has been on since his early days in Minnesota with budding stars on offense in Javonte Williams, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, as well as a solid offensive line to keep him upright and the run game producing. On defense the team has Justin Simmons named team mvp last week, Patrick Surtain Jr., Bradley Chubb, Ronald Darby Jr., Shelby Harris, and Dremont Jones under contract to build on in 2022. Give this team a quarterback that can utilize the depth they have at wide receiver, and suddenly this offense will look similar to Kansas City, or Los Angeles where they use multiple receivers more often than not.