With One Tweet, Kirk Cousins Officially Becomes Trade Bait

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The power of a blue Twitter checkmark was experienced by Minnesota Vikings faithful to kick off the month of February. 

The boss man at NFLAnalysis.net decided that Kirk Cousins was firmly in the mix to be a trade component on the San Francisco 49ers offseason agenda. 

Massey, the man in charge of NFL Analysis, evidently has it on good authority that Cousins-to-Niners is a tangible reality. He made no mention of his source, but that is not too uncommon. Sources often “hide behind” journalists and analysts to maintain anonymity. 

But Massey indeed has a blue checkmark on his social media resume, so now it is off to the races for the theoretical Cousins Sweepstakes. The bulk of the Cousins chatter to San Francisco is derived from his relationship with Kyle Shanahan in Washington. Shanahan and Cousins worked side-by-side for two seasons – Cousins’ first and second campaigns – in 2012 and 2013. This was the Robert Griffin III era, and Shanahan was the offensive coordinator. 

Yes, the two men know each other. They might even be buddies. Yet, Cousins was never the breadwinner in a Washington Football Team offense with Shanahan. Cousins was the backup signal-caller to Griffin III. He was never an unabashed starting quarterback with Shanahan anywhere.

Because of the Shanahan-Cousins link, is their friendship real? Probably. Does that mean Cousins took his final snap with the Vikings in Week 17 of 2020? Probably not.

Speculation City

Your grandmother could hop onto Twitter tonight and tell folks that the 49ers are interested in Cousins. It might even be believed and mass-tweeted if she had a blue checkmark. That little symbol conveys legitimacy and perhaps a little bit of power.

Let’s be crystal-clear: Massey’s tweet is speculation. No voice inside the Vikings orbit has mentioned discontentment with Cousins as the team’s leader. Those nuggets usually find a way to leak. They haven’t.

Cousins throws 30 touchdowns per season, and that type of passer is not overly prevalent. In fact, the Vikings have sought this type of production since the demise of Daunte Culpepper. With Cousins, they finally have the heralded durability and stability. 

A Cousins swap with San Francisco is hearsay – and hearsay only. Massey could tweet tonight that the Memphis Grizzlies are interested in LeBron James. Why? Because the Grizzlies probably do marvel at his abilities. But he ain’t walking in Memphis.

Then Who Plays QB for MIN?

In theory, Jimmy Garoppolo could end up with the Vikings. Where is the proof that Minnesota actually enjoys his game? The primary disadvantage for Garoppolo is his health – the very attribute that stands Cousins apart from his peers. Garopplolo is routinely hurt, Cousins is not. 

If the Vikings do not want to be saddled with Cousins’ contract any longer (speculation), Garoppolo’s paycheck is not much lighter. He is slated to earn about $25 million per season in 2021 and 2020. His dead cap figure is smaller, to be sure. But why would Minnesota trade for Garoppolo and rush to cut him if he was no good? Then what at quarterback?

The goal is to have a steady and talented quarterback. Cousins is that, year in and year out. Garoppolo kind-of does that – when he isn’t hurt. A Garoppolo-into-Mannion contingency plan will inspire no fear in anybody leaguewide. 

Should Garoppolo not be an element to this gossipy trade ordeal, do the Vikings draft a quarterback at the 14th spot of the 2021 NFL Draft? That is “reach” territory of the draft. On free agents, have fun with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cam Newton, or Joe Flacco. None of those men consistently deliver like Cousins.

The Rams Would Never…

Some folks really, really want this trade-Cousins stuff to be real. It might be – it’s just unlikely. Stranger things have happened, however. Matthew Stafford was not supposed to command a 1st-Round pick – let alone two of them, plus a 3rd-Rounder, plus a franchise quarterback in Jared Goff.

The NFL is odd. Several trades come to fruition as the masses expect. Ones like Stafford-to-Los Angeles or Hopkins-to-Arizona pop up and yank your socks off. A Cousins deal would be stunning – especially to the 49ers – because Garoppolo is a money sucker on the cap, too.

Cousins-to-Garoppolo is a slight downgrade and a slight price reduction. Disallowing Garoppolo into the trade would indicate Rick Spielman is back to square-one for the quarterback position. 

Head coach Mike Zimmer can generally win games without a show stopping quarterback, but jettisoning Cousins for the great unknown is unlikely – even for Zimmer. The 64-year-old Zimmer has to win now after an underwhelming 2020 campaign. Employing a journeyman or rookie to start Week 1 does not add up. Neither does Garoppolo at a likeminded price tag.

Remember, too – Garoppolo has thrown over 10 touchdowns in a season just once in his 7-year career.