Welcome. Seemingly every day there is another article floating around Minnesota Viking/NFL media speculating that quarterback Kirk Cousins may/should end up being traded to any number of teams for any number of draft picks. Those of you who know my work know I’ve long been labeled an “apologist” of Cousins, and this series won’t deviate from that narrative.
That having been said, there is really one solid reason why the Vikings would move on from Cousins and it’s purely financial. With the new lowered COVID-cap, the Vikings lack of cap space and the need to extend Danielle Hunter, the Vikings could move on from Cousins if he resists a restructure himself.
Beyond that, though, the Vikings have literally no reason to move on from Kirk as I’ll explain. I wanted to start by pointing out the laughable rate of return many have speculated the Vikings would get for Cousins, but I’ll save that for part 2 as I think there’s one major factor in this scenario most people are ignoring.
Mike Zimmer’s tenuous standing with the organization.
What tenuous situation? I mean, he’s just now entering the beginning of his extension from last off-season, right? So, he’s got to be in pretty good standing with the powers that be over in Eagan.
Well, yes and no.
After the Vikings were embarrassed by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2019 Divisional Round of the playoffs they almost immediately fired Zimmer’s right hand man “defensive coordinator” George Edwards. I use quotes on his title as he didn’t call any plays that day or any other, nor did he have anything to do with the real reason the Vikings were blown out of the water. The offensive line’s inability to block anyone.
That was a clear sign that the status quo wasn’t good enough going into Zimmer’s final contracted year. Then the 2020 Draft happened. As you’ll recall, the Vikings had a record haul for the modern Draft of 15-picks. That bought Zimmer more time as the team clearly wanted to allow him to develop the players he’d drafted alongside the also extended Rick Spielman.
When COVID and the injury bug decimated Zimmer’s D in 2020 he also mostly escaped culpability from the media and fans, however, as I mentioned in an article last night that excuse won’t get him very far in 2021.
If anyone is aware of that fact it’s Zimmer. Why then, would he decide to jettison his quarterback going into a make or break 2021? If anyone also knows how hard it is to find consistent quarterback help and play, it’s Zimmer (and Spielman).
As you’ll see in part 2 of this piece, considering the rate of return that people are surmising the Vikings will get for Cousins (a second, fourth and sixth?), there’s zero guarantee that the Vikings would get anything in return to offset the monumental loss of someone as efficient as Cousins.
This is a Vikings offense that prided itself on long, methodical drives that needed to score as many touchdowns (over field goals) as possible for that plan to work. Otherwise you’d end up with the scenario that occurred against Tampa, in which the Vikes dominated the time of possession but still ended up losing that game.
That efficiency doesn’t come along often, nor does Cousins’ accuracy, lack of interceptions, or ability to stay happy while the team refuses to protect him upfront. That means, as we’ve seen, that quarterbacks like DeShaun Watson or Russell Wilson wouldn’t be caught dead waiving their no-trade clauses to come here (not to mention, again, the return people think Cousins is worth not doing much to offset what the Vikings would need to trade to land a Watson or Wilson).
Does anyone really think that Zimmer or Spielman would then rely on a rookie quarterback taken at 14 considering what is at stake for them in 2021? Especially considering how great the offense looked with Cousins in 2020?
The answer should be no. But, apparently it isn’t.
I have a feeling that that says more about those writing these articles than the actual probability of Cousins being traded. But I’ve been wrong before, after all, I am a Vikings fan.