Would the Vikings trade quarterback Kirk Cousins?
His 2020 extension dropped the no-trade clause, allowing the Vikings to move Cousins without his consent. (As a practical matter, however, which NFL team would trade for a quarterback who doesn’t want to be there?) His contract pays $56 million over the next two years. Most importantly, a whopping $35 million 2022 base salary becomes fully guaranteed on March 19.
On one hand, the Vikings have a better chance to be relevant in 2021 with Cousins, who has spent three season with team. Unless Minnesota decides to make a play for Deshaun Watson (it probably wouldn’t be a great idea for the Vikings to make a blockbuster trade with an NFL team located in Texas), there’s no clear upgrade who would immediately make Minnesota a Super Bowl contender. Most available options wouldn’t make the Vikings a playoff contender, at least not in his first season.
And if the Vikings aren’t a playoff contender in 2021, a house cleaning could be coming.
Of course, if ownership can be sold on the idea that offloading Cousins, saving $56 million, and taking a step back would lead to eventually taking multiple steps forward, maybe 2021 would become a scholarship year. Still, what would the strategy be for taking multiple steps forward?
One locally popular move would entail bringing Teddy Bridgewater home to Minnesota from the Panthers. Plenty of fans would welcome that move. Those fans also would quite possibly feel very different if/when the Vikings regress offensively in 2021.
Before the question becomes relevant, someone would have to want to trade for Cousins. If the 49ers or someone else makes the call, the dilemma for the Vikings becomes investing $56 million for two more years with Cousins, or moving on to a vague Plan B that could result in the Vikings becoming a perennial Team D in the NFC North.