Vikings Floated as Trade Destination for $30 Million Former Top-5 Pick

Kevin O'Connell, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings.

It is far from certain what Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins might do this offseason. Could a trade for his replacement be in the Vikings’ future?

Cousins is a free agent this offseason. Both sides have expressed interest in Cousins’ return. But they have not agreed to a new deal yet. And some around the league believe his departure is a real possibility.

Mike Sando of The Athletic relayed a discussion between a group of anonymous executives during which the idea of Cousins replacing Tua Tagovailoa on the Miami Dolphins came up.

“If you … sign Kirk, I’d want to make sure I felt comfortable about having him for three years from a health standpoint,” one exec said, per Sando on January 15. “I do think Tua works much better in a domed stadium where you know half your games are played in pristine conditions.”

That is an argument for the Vikings to reconsider committing to Cousins on the type of big-money, fully guaranteed contract he could command and for Tagovailoa in Minnesota.

“The Vikings would need a quarterback if Cousins departed,” Sando wrote.

Cousins just completed a one-year, $35 million contract. But he is on the Vikings’ books for $28.5 million next season even no matter what. Tagovailoa is in the final year of his $30.3 million rookie-scale contract and carries a $23.2 million cap hit next season on his fifth-year option. The Vikings are starting at $39.6 million in cap space, per Spotrac.

It is still not clear how much of an upgrade Tagovailoa would be. Health-wise, this past season was his first full slate of games since he entered the league. Injuries, and specifically concussions have been a big topic throughout that time.

Cousins had missed two games in his Vikings career before tearing his Achilles this season, costing him the final eight contests.

The Vikings were also trending upward, winning four of his last five starts.

Tagovailoa’s Dolphins lost three straight and four of their final six games to close out the regular season. Narratives about third-year passer’s cold-weather issues also proved true as Tagovailoa completed 51.2% of his passes in the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Wild Card Weekend.

“Our resources are better spent on Cousins plus draft picks than … just Tua,” a different exec said.

Would Trade for Tua Tagovailoa Help Vikings?

Tua Tagovailoa, Minnesota Vikings

GettyTua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins.

“Your upside with Tua certainly seems limited,” the second exec said, per Sando. “Let’s say you can trade him. 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.”

Cousins, 35, is 50-37-1 during his six seasons in Minnesota. But playoff success has eluded him with just two appearances (2019 and 2022) and a 1-2 postseason record in that span. He was 0-for-1 with the Washington organization.

Tagovailoa, 25, was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 draft. He is 32-19 in his four NFL seasons.

That gives the potential trade candidate a .627 winning percentage compared to .568 for Cousins with the Vikings.

Vikings Intend to Bring Kirk Cousins Back

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

GettyGeneral manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

Cousins is also a rumored potential option for Washington, the Atlanta Falcons, and the New England Patriots. But it could all be moot if Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah had his way.

“I’ve said that [he wanted Cousins back],” Adofo-Mensah said via the team on January 10. “I’ve been pretty consistent with that. Kirk the player is somebody that we saw what he does to this team. I thought we were playing really good football before he got injured, and it’s the most important position in sports.”

Adofo-Mensah also left the door open for Cousins’ departure, though. The Vikings are still facing a bit of a salary-cap crunch without making further moves.

“Ultimately, taking a step back in the short term isn’t a big deal if you don’t think you’re actually close to [remaining competitive],” Adofo-Mensah said. “And those are always the conversations we try and have and go about.”