Kirk Cousins as a Dolphin? NFL Writer & Anonymous Execs Explore the Idea

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins is a part-time football player and full-time rumor generator.

Mike Sando, a senior writer for The Athletic, took some time to explore Miami’s next steps at quarterback after Tua Tagovailoa put together an underwhelming effort in the playoffs. There’s some uncertainty about how high Miami can ascend with Tua tossing the pigskin, but moving on creates the obvious issue: who takes over at QB1? For the purposes of the speculation in The Athletic, none other than Kirk Daniel Cousins, the soon-to-be 36-year-old with a leaky Achilles.

Kirk Cousins as a Dolphin? The Athletic Says Maybe

First off, a brief word about Mike Sando.

By no means is he someone who is new to writing about football. Per his bio, Sando has been at The Athletic since 2019 and had worked at ESPN for a dozen years prior. Oh, and he gets a vote on the Hall of Fame committee. In other words, he’s someone who garners respect, as his ability to lean on anonymous NFL executives for their two cents suggests.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warms up before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of the Miami + Kirk rationale appears to be that the Dolphins legitimately have some excellent players, especially on offense. The Tyreek Hill & Jaylen Waddle twosome means Miami boasts some terrifying speed and then there’s the presence of guys like Raheem Mostert, Bradley Chubb, Jalen Ramsey, and several others.

Inserting a strong, veteran quarterback into Mike McDaniel’s system should result in a reasonably dynamic Dolphins squad.

Sando offers some general thoughts: “The equation here is that Cousins and a draft pick (or picks) would be better than continuing with Tagovailoa. The Dolphins do not have third- or fourth-round picks in the upcoming draft, so they could use the capital. Cousins, a free agent in March, would have to prioritize Miami as his preferred landing spot, which seemingly would be easy for him, given what the Dolphins offer in terms of McDaniel’s personality, the scheme and weaponry.”

Sep 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) passes the ball during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

And then there are the thoughts from the executives: “I would be exploring, ‘OK, Tua, we can win games with, probably not winning a championship with. Kirk Cousins, we can win games with, probably not winning a championship with. But our resources are better spent on Cousins plus draft picks than they are on just Tua.’”

Not too long afterwards, there’s the speculation about what Miami could recoup by trading away their young passer before making a run at Cousins. Another executive offers an opinion: “If you could get a 2 and a 3 for Tua and sign Kirk, I’d want to make sure I felt comfortable about having him for three years from a health standpoint.”

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) drops back to pass against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With respect to Mr. Sando and the theory, it’s much more likely that Cousins sticks around in Minnesota.

The Vikings want to keep their quarterback. Recently, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah confirmed the sentiment: “As a player, it’s certainly my intention to have him back here.” The GM then says there is going to be a consideration of a variety of factors — age, injury, performance, off-field work habits — before seeking to find a solution that doesn’t have undue risk.

Translation: Kwesi legitimately wants his veteran quarterback to return, but he won’t be taking leave of his senses when the two sides begin negotiating in earnest.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Before succumbing to injury, Kirk Cousins was playing at an All-Pro level. His eight games resulted in a 4-4 team record and some impressive individual statistics.

He was up to completing 69.5% of his passes while sitting on 2,331 yards. He tossed 18 TDs against 5 INTs. Rounding things out with a 103.8 passer rating and 86.1 PFF grade simply underscores what the traditional stats and eye-test suggest: Cousins was operating at a high level. Expect QB-needy teams to respond accordingly if Cousins hits free agency in mid-March. If Sando’s musings end up being correct, then the Dolphins will be a team to monitor.

The Vikings are sitting on $26.6 million in cap space. Meanwhile, Miami needs to clear close to $41 million just to break even within their 2024 budget.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, PFF, and Over the Cap 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.