Proposed Trade Lands Vikings Former Top-2 Pick for a Bargain

Kirk Cousins

Getty Kirk Cousins and Kevin O'Connell

The Minnesota Vikings must plan for life after Kirk Cousins despite finally reaping the benefits of signing the veteran quarterback this season.

The 34-year-old quarterback has one year left on his contract as the Vikings extended their playoff window through the 2023 season. But beyond next season, Minnesota may have to move on from Cousins, making next season the ideal time to bring in a young quarterback to develop behind him.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell broke down what’s expected to be another lively spin of the quarterback carousel in the offseason and linked the Vikings to former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson.

 Vikings Named a Top Landing Spot for Jets QB Zach Wilson

In an article published on December 20, Barnwell posed that the Vikings are an ideal trade candidate for the New York Jets youngster.

“They won’t get anything close to the No. 2 overall pick in return for [Wilson], but a midround pick could be possible if a team picking toward the end of the round wants to take a shot at a former top prospect,” Barnwell wrote. “The Buccaneers and Vikings come to mind as possible landing spots in a Wilson deal.”

Barnwell was realistic in his trade scenarios, noting in a section that Cousins is the probable starter for the Vikings in 2023 after a turnaround 2022 season under head coach Kevin O’Connell. However, he did say there’s a need for a backup, which Wilson could fill.

Just 21 games into his career, Wilson has struggled with accuracy on relatively routine concepts the Jets have tried to employ with him. His 55.4% career completion percentage is the lowest of all 30 starting quarterbacks who have played at least 17 games in the past two seasons, per Stathead.

Despite the accuracy issues, Wilson has the athleticism and gunslinger mentally to create explosive plays off the talent around him. He could also hone his accuracy working with Cousins, who’s been one of the league’s most accurate passers over the past decade.

Heavy’s Paul A. Esden Jr. appraised a potential trade for Wilson a bit higher than Barnwell, suggesting a deal would be similar to what New York received in their Sam Darnold trade package in April 2021.

“From speaking to a few people around the league they are a bit more optimistic about the Jets’ potential return in a deal suggesting it could be very similar to the Sam Darnold package,” Esden wrote. “That trade with the Carolina Panthers included a second-rounder, a fourth-rounder, and a sixth-rounder. While that isn’t the same value as the No. 2 overall pick they originally invested, it is much better than just a middle-round selection.”

Zach Wilson is an Ideal Bridge QB for Vikings

Wilson, only in his second year in the NFL, has at least two more years on his rookie contract. He’s also eligible for a fifth-year option, which would give the Vikings a two-season trial through the 2025 season for a bargain.

Having a quarterback on a rookie contract would free up funds to fortify an aging defense with high-value veterans during the bridge era with Wilson. That could further extend Minnesota’s playoff window, and if it doesn’t, the Vikings will be in position to select a top prospect in the draft.

The possibilities are endless for what life after Cousins looks like, however, if the Vikings aren’t comfortable pushing all their chips in on the next two draft classes, Wilson could be their answer with Justin Jefferson entering his prime.

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