An Absolutely Bonkers Trade Offer for Kirk Cousins Never Materialized

NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers
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Credit to Alec Lewis of the The Athletic for the wild story featuring a report about a bonkers trade offer for Kirk Cousins.

Kyle Shanahan’s affection for Kirk Cousins is well documented. At no point does anyone question whether San Francisco’s head coach is a fan of Minnesota’s QB1. A recent revelation, though, does add an extra layer to just how much Shanahan thinks of Cousins.

Should the Vikings Give Kirk Cousins an Extension?
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

Apparently, Shanahan “tried to trade the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft for Cousins.” The issue? Well, Washington didn’t respond to the offer:

“He knew Kirk knew his system, and he knew the type of guy Kirk was,” Mike Shanahan said. “But (Washington) wouldn’t even return the phone call.”

Making things even more crazy is that the Commanders weren’t even that interested in retaining Cousins. Rather than signing him to a large contract, Washington allowed their man to get away. Sure, there were the consecutive franchise tags, but a real contract — complete with multiple years of guaranteed money — is what teams generally offer a quarterback when they’re serious about retaining him.

Instead, Cousins walked himself into free agency before taking over the reins with the Vikings.

The Bonkers Trade Offer for Kirk Cousins

Vikings fans are accustomed to seeing trade speculation involving the quarterback. The yearly ritual usually heats up in March as various voices hypothesize where Mr. Cousins will be bringing his talents. Recently, the trade ideas got a fresh boost since the New York Jets are now operating without the help of Aaron Rodgers. Conjecture and rumor aside, Cousins has only offered his services in Minnesota since his fateful decision to join the team in 2018.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) prepares to snap the ball to quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the first quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Being able to sign him as a free agent in 2018, though, could have been undone if the Commanders accepted the trade offer that was reportedly on the table.

The draft’s 2nd overall selection is a humongous amount of draft capital.

In 2017, the pick was used on Mitchell Trubisky, a move that Chicago regrets. Possessing a bit more foresight could have resulted in that pick being used on Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, Marshon Lattimore, or T.J. Watt. Or, put differently, All Pro players who are cornerstones of their current franchises (especially Mr. Mahomes).

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Jan 8, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) attempts a pass as guard Joe Thuney (62) defends against Denver Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris (96) in the first quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Now, if Washington was 100% certain that Cousins was their QB of the present and the future, then an asset as lucrative as the 2nd selection isn’t worth it. True franchise QBs are hard to come by in the NFL, so teams generally hang on with both hands when one gets into their orbit.

The strange part of the story — what makes it bonkers — is that Washington never seemed truly committed to Cousins.

Vikings fans can (and do) disagree about where Cousins belongs in the NFL’s QB hierarchy, but the general consensus is that he’s at worst a top-15 option. Some quibble with the price tag for that kind of play — I certainly have in the past on several occasions — but he is better than most. All Minnesota had to do was wait until free agency to sign him; no draft capital needed to be shipped out to get him to town.

The Vikings began their current season with an uninspiring 0-2 record. Cousins has played a part in the pair of losses by being involved in several turnovers but he’s far from the main reason for defeat. He’ll need to play nearly flawless football for the Vikings to have a shot at reaching the playoffs in 2023.

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.