The Trade Kirk Cousins Theories: 4 Writers, 3 Locations, & 1 Rumor That Won’t Go Away

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Kirk Cousins. That’s the mandate if we’re simply looking at what many are suggesting on social media.

And, to be sure, there’s some merit to the perspective. At 1-4, the Vikings are going nowhere unless they experience near unprecedented success. Cousins has been playing some of the best football of his career and yet he’s a 35-year-old QB on the final year of his deal who demands to be paid in humongous guarantees. Does that sound like a nice fit for the competitively rebuilding Vikings? Reasonable minds disagree (which is to say nothing of the unreasonable minds).

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Minnesota Vikings
Sep 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa (97) sacks Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The noise has grown so loud that Cousins was even forced into discussing a trade possibility at his press conference: “I’m just very focused on the Bears and going 1-0 this week. And anything else is just not worth my time or energy or attention.”

Now, keep in mind what he didn’t say. The QB1 did not say that he’d refuse to waive his no-trade clause. Instead, he simply acknowledged that his priority rests on preparing for the Chicago Bears. A consummate pro, Cousins would never go for a different answer.

What his response does tell us is that he very likely hasn’t been asked if he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause. Why devote precious energy to something that’s merely a speculative possibility? Cousins will keep his head down and keep working until the issue becomes an issue.

Or, put differently, he’ll worry about whether or not to waive his no-trade clause when it’s an actual question he needs to answer. Until then, Cousins is going to focus on being a strong NFL quarterback.

Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs away from Green Bay Packers linebacker Justin Hollins (47) during their game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Part of the issue for Minnesota is that there are still several possibilities at play. Trading Cousins makes sense; extending Cousins also makes sense. There’s even a case to be made for letting his contract expire, allowing the market to set his price and (potentially) recouping a compensatory selection if he signs elsewhere.

These various possibilities don’t make up the meat and potatoes of this piece. Instead, the focus rests in gleaning some insight from a few minds atVikings Territory and PurplePTSD. I asked a few of our people the following: “With the season all but done, the Vikings may look to trade Kirk Cousins. If they do, where does he get traded and why?”

Keep scrolling to see what our writers think.

Trade Kirk Cousins: The Theories

1) Josh Frey, PurplePTSD Managing Editor

Oct 1, 2023; London, United Kingdom; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) releases the ball during the first half of an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons feel like they are a QB away from running the NFC South. No other team in that division inspires much confidence, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Bijan Robinson already looks like a star, and Atlanta has plenty of young pass-catching talent in Drake London and Kyle Pitts.

That being said, Desmond Ridder simply hasn’t been good enough for the Falcons this year. He had a decent game in Week 5, but he has thrown for just 4 TDs in the first five games and is still averaging just 214 passing yards per game. Atlanta could have some extra 2024 draft capital coming their way from Jacksonville because of the Calvin Ridley trade, so they should be on the phone with Minnesota.

2) Dustin Baker, Vikings Territory Managing Editor

Aug 25, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

If the Vikings trade Kirk Cousins — I don’t think it ultimately shakes out — it probably has to be a deal with the Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots are a hop, skip, and jump away from a 1-5 or 1-6 record, so they’re toast. The Jets won’t spend more draft capital on old quarterbacks. Then, the Steelers and Titans don’t quite add up, with youngster QBs already on the depth chart.

Should Brock Purdy get injured this weekend or next, that’s the only real scenario where I see Cousins traded.

3) Cole Smith, PurplePTSD Writer

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) leaves the field after the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Although the 2023 season appears to be going down the tubes, I don’t believe that Kirk Cousins will be traded. First off, he has a no-trade clause that he’d have to waive to allow any trade to go down. Second, why would he sign off on a trade when he is set to be a free agent following the season? He could choose his next destination during free agency, whereas he’d likely be shipped off to a less-than-desirable destination via trade. Finally, there just isn’t a potential replacement for Kirk on the current roster. Backup Nick Mullens is dealing with a back issue, and rookie Jaren Hall is way too raw to insert into the starting lineup. Shipping Kirk away would jeopardize a locker room that still ranks 15th in points scored and 23rd in points allowed despite turning the ball over four times on the goal line this year.

4) K. Joudry, Vikings Territory & PurplePTSD Senior Editor

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers
Dec 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Tennessee Titans offensive tackle David Quessenberry (72) against Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Allow me to zig while others zag: the Pittsburgh Steelers are the team to watch.

Mike Tomlin — who is a former Minnesota Vikings employee — is leading a talented group in Pittsburgh. Defensively, the Steelers are a top-tier operation, boasting tremendous talent such as T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Keeanu Benton, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Joey Porter Jr. At 3-2, they sit atop the AFC North, meaning they’ve got a shot at not only appearing in the playoffs but in hosting a playoff game once there.

How does a Kirk Cousins & George Pickens duo sound? Better than a Kenny Pickett & George Pickens duo.

In Dustin’s mind, the Steelers making a move for Cousins would signal that they’re giving up on Pickett. If that’s true, then a Cousins deal becomes much more unlikely, but I think Dustin is misguided on this one.

Right now, Kirk Cousins is far superior to Kenny Pickett. That’s an indisputable fact. Onboarding the talented veteran is only about 2023 contention and not about moving on from the long-term plan to feature Pickett. Sitting behind the more accomplished Cousins would allow Pickett to learn while (ideally) experiencing meaningful team success.

A win all around for Pittsburgh.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.