Phil Mackey of SKOR North predicted on Tuesday, September 26, that Cousins will steer the Vikings toward the Atlanta Falcons as a trade partner rather than the Jets — assuming talk of his trade becomes real inside Minnesota’s front office at some point over the next few weeks. The QB has that power due to a no-trade clause included in his contract, which ends when this season does.
Kirk Cousins’ wife was born and raised in Georgia. She went to the University of Georgia in Athens, and Kirk and Julie were married, almost 10 years ago, in Georgia. They have family in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Atlanta is a much more similar market to Minneapolis in terms of, like, it’s kind of a middle market in the NFL.
If it’s between the Jets and New York and pressure cooker and all of that stuff — and Kirk is very comfortable in Minnesota, he’s from Michigan, he’s a Midwestern guy. Family is very important to him. He takes Tuesday off every week to be with family. Atlanta makes so much more sense than the Jets in this conversation, especially if Kirk is the one, which he is, that can decide on the no-trade clause or not.
The Falcons are 2-1 under second-year quarterback and first-year starter Desmond Ridder, who the team selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Ridder has completed 62.5% of his 88 pass attempts through three games, throwing for 553 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. He has a rating of 83.2 and a QBR of 36.0, per Pro Football Reference.
For a deal to work out with Atlanta, that organization would need to determine that Ridder is not its QB of the future and that Cousins signing there long-term is the desire of both the player and the team.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings Primed for Trade After 0-3 Start
Talk of Minnesota dealing Cousins has increased dramatically since the Vikings fell to the Los Angeles Chargers at home last weekend and dropped to 0-3.
The reason is because Cousins will hit unrestricted free agency in March 2024 and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has passed up opportunities to extend the 35-year-old quarterback long-term in consecutive offseasons. Those facts point to the unlikelihood that Cousins plays in purple and gold next year, and if the Vikings fall out of the playoff picture this season, there is little point in keeping him around.
More losses means a better first-round draft pick, and dealing Cousins will bring back a meaningful draft asset of some sort that Minnesota can package to try and move up and draft its signal-caller of the future next April.
Vikings Risk Upsetting Justin Jefferson by Trading Kirk Cousins
The glaring problem with the idea is that All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson desperately wants to win and transitioning to Nick Mullens or Jaren Hall makes the team considerably less competitive this year.
“I’m a competitor, I hate losing at the end of the day,” Jefferson told reporters following the team’s loss to the Chargers on September 24. “Ever since I was a little kid, I just hate the feeling of losing, whether it’s football or a board game. It’s always that competitive spirit in me. I hate losing. Every week, I try to go out there and give it my best, give it my all. To come up short three times in a row is tough.”
However, if Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell can sell Jefferson on enduring one year of losing, the Vikings have the offensive pieces in place that could allow for a rookie star to step into a starting role and thrive immediately.
Wideout Jordan Addison has been great through three games and tight end T.J. Hockenson just signed the richest deal at his position in NFL history. Both are under contract with the Vikings for at least the next four years. Jefferson is also extension-eligible and figures to land the richest wide receiver contract in history whenever he ends up signing it.
If the team can convince its quality players that moving on from Cousins now and getting something back for him — rather than waiting until the end of the season and getting nothing — is the best course of action for the offense’s long-term health, than a player like Jefferson should understand.
Minnesota plays five more games before the October 31 trade deadline, including two home contests against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the currently undefeated San Francisco 49ers. The Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field two days ahead of the deadline.
Even with Cousins, winning two of those three games will be a tall order for the Vikings. That the team plays the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears, both 0-3, over the next three weeks helps Minnesota’s immediate prospects, though getting to .500 by the time the deadline arrives will still be exceedingly difficult.
If the Vikings are going to trade Cousins, now is the time to do it — before the team claws its way back into the NFC North Division race and before his value drops as more regular season games pass for contenders who could use the quarterback’s help.