First, to be clear: Unless some sort of obvious upgrade presented itself, I don't think there's even a chance the Vikings will trade Kirk Cousins this offseason. That's more of an end-game move if the entire thing they're trying to build falls apart, not a shift-on-the-fly sort of maneuver.
And I don't even think the Vikings should attempt to trade Cousins. He's a durable, above-average QB who has landed in the top 10 of Pro Football Focus' grades each of the past two seasons here. Out of offense, defense and special teams, the offense was by far the biggest bright spot for the Vikings in a disappointing 7-9 season in 2021. While history tells us it is tough to win a Super Bowl with a quarterback like Cousins occupying so much cap space, that is the path the Vikings have chosen.
But two things can be true at the same time: There can be little or no chance Cousins will be traded or should be traded ... and yet it will still be the thing that more Vikings fans talk about and wish for more than anything else.
This was discussed some on the latest Access Vikings podcast, which invariably featured reader questions about Cousins and disgruntled Texans QB Deshaun Watson — and whether there was any way the Vikings should shed Cousins and add Watson.
The answer is that it is somewhat plausible financially, since Watson has a reasonable cap number in 2021 — but that it is implausible in about 17 other ways.
I said on the podcast, even gaming out one scenario: Why would a team that wanted to trade for a quarterback target Cousins instead of Watson, thereby allowing the Vikings to go after Watson?
And that was before we learned that Matthew Stafford and the Lions are planning to part ways. Stafford is quite similar to Cousins in age and numbers.
It was before Aaron Rodgers and the Packers lost in the NFC title game, leaving Rodgers to be vague about his future and stirring thoughts that his days in Green Bay could be coming to an end.
There's a chance the Steelers will trade or flat-out cut Ben Roethlisberger.
Atlanta has a new coaching staff and the No. 4 pick. Trading Matt Ryan is certainly in play, and San Francisco is a plausible destination for many reasons.
Add in a quarterback-rich draft, including potential franchise QB Trevor Lawrence, and this is could be an offseason QB market unlike anything we have seen. Sure, that means a lot of teams will possibly need quarterbacks. But in terms of transactions, it seems like a buyer's market at least when it comes to options.
Contrast that to 2018, when the Vikings faced their big quarterback decision with Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford all hitting free agency at the same time. Cousins was the clear top available quarterback, a rarity to hit the market at his age and with his resume.
Maybe if that market was similar three years later — and the Vikings actually wanted to trade him and it seemed like they should trade him — they could pull it off. But trading Cousins now, with multiple better or at least similar options potentially available?
Sorry to inject your offseason daydream with a blast of cold January air, but good luck trying to do that.