Former Commanders star Kirk Cousins a hot name on the QB carousel
By Jerry Trotta
The Washington Commanders figure to be big players in the 2022 quarterback sweepstakes, which has the potential to be more captivating than last offseason when Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Sam Darnold, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sam Darnold and Mitchell Trubisky all switched teams.
We’re still weeks away from the start of the NFL’s legal tampering period, but the early indicators suggest Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Jimmy Garoppolo are just some of the names that could be on the move.
For any fans clamoring for rumors, we got our first dose over the weekend, and it just so happened to involve a former Commander.
According to Judd Zulgad of SKOR North, via Anthony Ruzzuti of Yahoo.com, the Panthers have called the Vikings about a potential trade for Kirk Cousins.
Former Commanders quarterback Kirk Cousins is already generating trade interest.
That’s certainly interesting!
While newly-minted Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell has said he wants the team to build around Cousins, the fact he nor new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah have a previous relationship with the former Washington quarterback indicates they could be pushed to pursue alternatives if he doesn’t cooperate.
By cooperate, we’re referring to Cousins’ colossal contract.
For 2022, he has a fully-guaranteed salary of $35 million, which is tied with Deshaun Watson for tops in the NFL, and a $45 million cap hit, which trails only Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers for the biggest in the league.
It would behoove O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah to lower that number, but word on the street is Cousins has no interest in taking a pay cut and believes he can receive $40 million annually on a new contract next offseason.
For the Vikings, franchise-tagging Cousins in 2023 is out of the equation given it would cost north of $60 million since Washington previously tagged him twice and that’d be be due a 44% raise over his 2022 cap number, per Pro Football Talk.
The Panthers, on the other hand, are in a bit of a financial predicament of their own, as they owe Darnold $18.8 million fully guaranteed for 2022. That trade quickly turned into a disaster and head coach Matt Rhule, who’s skating on thin ice with the front office, needs the team to perform better to save his job.
For a team that has cycled through subpar QBs since Cam Newton’s departure, Cousins would represent a significant upgrade. Could a potential Cousins-Darnold swap work with the Vikings eating Darnold’s contract and proceeding to look for an upgrade on the open market?
On the flip side, could Minnesota even justify moving on from Cousins? Even with his albatross of a contract and lack of playoff success, he’s still a top-15 player at the position and finding a superior option could prove difficult.
There’s so many variables attached to this, but that’s what makes the NFL offseason so compelling, right? Regardless of whether Cousins gets traded, this rumor suggests the former Commanders star will be a regular in the news cycle in the coming weeks and months.