Trading Kirk Cousins to the 49ers Doesn’t Make Sense

Are the Bucs a Fit for Kirk Cousins?
Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Throughout the past few days, buzz around a Kirk Cousins/San Francisco 49ers trade has popped up once again. Whether it’s because of talent expectations or his cap hit, Cousins constantly seems to be in trade talks whenever the offseason rolls around.

This article won’t aim at completely shutting down Cousins trade talks this offseason. With that being said, trading Kirk Cousins to the 49ers would be an irresponsible move by the Vikings organization as they try to reach the “championship standard” that they’ve set for themselves. Here are four reasons why.

The Pesky No-Trade Clause

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Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball against the New York Giants during the first quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

First and foremost, let’s get this out of the way before we jump into a “49ers specific” topic. There is no trade for Kirk Cousins that completely makes sense right now because he has a no-trade clause heading into the final year of his contract. As long as he wants to remain a Viking in 2023, he will remain a Viking in 2023. It’s as simple as that, so keep that thought on the backburner as we get into the meat of this argument.

NFC Playoff Opponent

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Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills during second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports.

Let’s assume for a second that Cousins is open to a trade, and the Vikings can find a deal to move him elsewhere. The San Francisco 49ers would be the last team that Minnesota chooses for a trade. Among the reasons, the most glaring one is the fact that the 49ers are an NFC playoff contender that the Vikings will have to go through in January.

Despite losing both Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance to injury early on in the season, the 49ers made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game with the “Mr. Irrelevant” in the 2022 NFL Draft, Brock Purdy, at quarterback. If Purdy hadn’t torn his UCL in that game, we could be looking at a situation where the 49ers are in the Super Bowl.

With that in mind, why would the Vikings send a veteran quarterback to Kyle Shanahan with a roster that is already a Super Bowl contender within the conference? A trade like this goes directly against everything that both Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell harped on their postseason press conference.

Where Do the Vikings Go at QB?

Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks David Blough (2), Kirk Cousins (8) and Nick Mullens (12) during practice at Hanbury Manor. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As of now, the Vikings don’t have a contingency plan behind Cousins at the quarterback position. Nick Mullens is a free agent, and there is very little chance that the Vikings find a guy that can be a Day 1 starter at the position in this draft.

Sure, the Vikings could receive Trey Lance in a return package for Cousins, but with only 4 NFL starts under his belt in two seasons, there’s no way to say for certain that Lance is a guy that you can trust as a starter.

I’ve written in the past about Nick Mullens being a potential bridge QB if they bring him back, but that scenario is for the 2024 season, and it assumes that the Vikings have a plan for a future QB, likely one that won’t be drafted until that 2024 Draft.

Justin Jefferson Extension

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Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) warms up wearing a shirt honoring Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin (3) before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

The timing for finding Kirk Cousins’ replacement is important for one huge reason: Justin Jefferson’s contract. This offseason, the Vikings are supposed to try and convince Jefferson to stick with them long-term by signing what likely will be a market-resetting deal.

Throughout his career, Jefferson has expressed a desire to win over everything else. He finally got his first taste of the playoffs this season, but the Vikings were prematurely eliminated by the New York Giants. There can be arguments over why the loss happened, but the majority of the blame has to go on the Vikings defense, not their offense.

With that in mind, what kind of message would the Vikings be sending not only by trading their QB that helped the Vikings reach a 13-4 record and the NFC North title, but also trading him within the conference to one of the premiere Super Bowl contenders?

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Vikings do need to start thinking about life after Kirk Cousins at the quarterback spot. He isn’t getting any younger, and his price tag will be much higher than anyone the Vikings can find in the draft.

That being said, 2023 doesn’t feel like the year to do that, and the 49ers certainly aren’t the team where they should send Cousins.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.