Read the title of this article again, then rewind a week in your brain. That truly makes no sense. But, here we are. Aaron Rodgers is out for the season, and nobody in their right mind thinks the New York Jets should go with Zach Wilson as a starter with a roster this good. Enter Kirk Cousins, who should be the Jets quarterback the remainder of this season.
After the Vikings’ 34-28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last night to drop to 0-2, it makes a ton of sense for both sides. And, NFL Network host Rich Eisen agrees that it’s something that should be pursued.
Let’s establish some facts. First, Kirk Cousins is a free agent after this season, which means the Vikings don’t have to worry about dead cap if they trade him.
That means if the New York Jets made the move and still wanted to start Aaron Rodgers next year, they simply would not re-sign Kirk Cousins. A trade would obviously be preferable to get something back, but the ability to cut with no penalty helps, too.
An 0-2 start doesn’t mean your season is over. But, according to NBC Sports Boston, only 11.5% of teams since 1990 that have started 0-2 have made the playoffs. It’s admittedly a little easier now, with the NFL having gone to 14 teams in the playoffs in 2020 instead of 12. But, odds are, the Minnesota Vikings are not making the playoffs. This means, it’s time to rebuild.
I think the Vikings have the right head coach in Kevin O’Connell, who has shown himself to be an excellent play caller and a shrewd decision maker in close games. The problem is, the roster is mostly devoid of top-end talent and good young players.
The pass-catching options, led by Justin Jefferson, is a gigantic exception to that. The receiver already has 5100 yards through the second game in his fourth year, and will play this entire season at 24 years old. He’s a player you’d like to build a franchise around, and they will likely get a contract extension done after this year.
Justin Jefferson Targets
Week 2, 2023
13 / 11 / 151 / 0
— Mike Vannucci (@WRCoachVannucci) September 15, 2023
Newly-extended Pro Bowl tight end TJ Hockensen and rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison are big exceptions to that, and they will form a soft landing for a rookie quarterback if the Vikings decide to trade Cousins and soft-tank the rest of the season.
From the perspective of the New York Jets, Kirk Cousins is definitely the best option potentially available this side of Tom Brady surprisingly coming out of retirement. Yes, he hasn’t played his best football in the playoffs. But, he’s a legitimate option as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Quarterback wins aren’t the end-all, be-all stat. But, he’s over .500 as a starter at 72-65-2. A career 258/106 TD/INT ratio is pretty good. And, his last few years in the league have been among his best. He threw for 62 touchdowns against 21 interceptions in 2021-2022, making the Pro Bowl both years. And, early on this year, he’s been at his best, throwing for 708 yards and 6 touchdowns against just one interception in the first two games.
With a loaded Jets roster, it’s conceivable Kirk Cousins could lead them deep into the playoffs. Remember, Matthew Stafford didn’t have much of a Super Bowl pedigree until he was traded to the Rams. He won the Super Bowl in year one with the Rams. And, again, with basically no repercussions to going back to Rodgers after this year, it seems like a no-brainer.
According to Overthecap.com, the Jets have around $9.7 left in cap room. With Cousins’ base salary at $10 million this year, the Jets can easily move money around and restructure deals to have room to make the trade using mostly draft capital.
So, what could get the deal done? Here’s an idea.
New York Jets receive: QB Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings receive: 2024 3rd Round pick, Conditional 2025 3rd round pick (conveys if Cousins starts a playoff game in the 2023 season)
This may not seem like a lot to get back, but the Vikings would be doing this to tank. And, those extra draft picks they get back would be sweeteners in a deal to move up and get a quarterback like Caleb Williams or Drake Maye in this upcoming draft, if their record isn’t quite bad enough to be in a position to take them.
Kirk Cousins does have a no-trade clause, but at 35 years old, his chances at winning a Super Bowl are running out. This would be a really smart move for him, because the Jets can absolutely win one.
Only time will tell, but to me, Kirk Cousins being traded to the New York Jets makes a ton of sense.