Ah, Yes, the Familiar Foe: Kirk Cousins Trade Rumors Get a Fresh Boost

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Kirk Cousins trade calls are growing.

After falling to 0-2, the Vikings are staring directly at an underwhelming season. Many insist the team is moving through a transitional year, the beginning of a rebuild. Jordan Reid of ESPN makes this precise point, encouraging fans to “keep a long-term view” while noting that “Year 1 of the rebuild is always the hardest for fans to accept. Regression was bound to happen.”

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The wild thing is that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Kevin O’Connell, and Kirk Cousins legitimately came into 2023 with the expectation that Minnesota could push for another division title and a spot in the postseason. And, to be sure, that possibility remains even after the inauspicious start.

The current trajectory, though, points toward a poor record in 2023. If the season continues to spiral, will the team actually consider moving Cousins?

The Kirk Cousins Trade Chatter Gets New Life

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah loves trading as much as Minnesotans love Caribou Coffee.

After less than a couple years on the job, Adofo-Mensah has pulled off 16 swaps. None are anywhere close to how gigantic a Cousins trade would be but the GM has made some bold decisions. Doing business with the Lions and Packers in the draft is still cause for concern among a lot of Vikings fans. Prying T.J. Hockenson away at last year’s trade deadline was a mini-blockbuster.

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) reacts after a play against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

But those pale in comparison to what a Cousins swap would entail.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert shared a tweet with the pithy comment “And we’re off!” alongside a screenshot of a sports show discussing a potential Cousins trade to the Jets. Losing Aaron Rodgers isn’t what New York had in mind for 2023, so there’s a possibility that Robert Saleh’s crew would be interested in adding someone to take over as the QB1.

Now, that doesn’t mean the Jets are definitively in on Cousins and nor does it mean the Vikings would even listen to an offer (let alone pull off a deal).

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

The potential interest for Minnesota merely rests in basic details you’re already familiar with. The team is currently trending more toward the “rebuild” portion of the Adofo-Mensah’s competitive rebuild. A 35-year-old QB on the final year of his contract may not fit perfectly in that plan, especially since he routinely demands huge guarantees on his deals.

Meanwhile, there are teams around the NFL that could use someone as competent as Cousins. True, he isn’t elite, but he’s a very competent QB. When everything is clicking, he’s easily a top-10 quarterback. The Jets offense boasts a pile of talent, so the reigning theory is that good QB play — or, perhaps, even average play — would be enough to make them a title contender. Maybe #8 would be willing to join them since he has yet to get a championship ring on his finger.

For whatever it’s worth, Cousins flirted with the Jets during free agency in 2018 before signing in Minnesota.

Sep 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) walks on the field at MetLife Stadium before the game against the Buffalo Bills. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The basic reality is that a QB trade is not imminent. The team is far from completely out of contention even if there are significant hurdles now in their path.

For anything to actually happen, the Vikings would need to be completely out of the playoff picture. In other words, fans who are covetous of trade action will need to patiently wait for the NFL’s trade deadline (per the league, that will happen at 3 p.m. CDT on Halloween). A disaster of a Vikings team could open the possibility of shipping Cousins to the highest bidder (provided the QB is interested in getting shipped).

Kirk Cousins has played in a couple games and put forth some strong numbers. He’s completing 72.7% of his passes while throwing 6 TDs against a single INT (though he has a trio of fumbles). His 708 yards are impressive and his 114.2 QB rating suggests that he has been playing well. So, plenty of reason for teams to call about acquiring him and yet plenty of reason for Minnesota to hold onto him.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.

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.