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Where do the Vikings rank among best Kirk Cousins fits?

Looking in depth at every team that could be interested in Kirk Cousins

The Decision is nearly upon us. Within the next 25 days or so we will know whether Kirk Cousins is returning to Minnesota or headed elsewhere.

Normally we look at things through the eyes of the Vikings front office but what if we view the Cousins decision from the QB’s perspective? What do the possible landing spots have to offer him? Who has the best argument to chase after Cousins? Let’s have a look…

Atlanta Falcons

What they can give him:

Despite quarterback play that ranked 41st (Taylor Heinicke) and 44th (Desmond Ridder) out of 45 QBs with at least 150 drop-backs by PFF grade, several Falcons weapons still found ways to have good years.

Receiver Drake London still caught 69 passes for 905 yards and ranked 21st by grade. He caught a league-leading 17 out of 33 contested catch opportunities. While top pick tight end Kyle Pitts has been considered a disappointment in terms of production he still gained 667 yards and ranked in the top 10 in tight end receiving grade. Tight end Jonnu Smith added 59 receptions and running back Bijan Robinson had the fourth most yards receiving in the NFL among RBs.

That’s a pretty good start in terms of players for Cousins to target.

Outside of just receiving options, the Falcons have other favorable elements of their offensive supporting cast, including PFF’s No. 4 ranked pass blocking unit and a ground attack that totaled over 2,100 yards last season, rating ninth in total yards.

Atlanta’s new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson also comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree. The offense would likely share very similar elements to Kevin O’Connell’s system and previous concepts that Cousins has seen along the way.

Competition wise, the Falcons have the easiest path to the postseason of any team that Cousins may choose. Add a third-place schedule with the NFC South’s batch of befuddled franchises and you have a great chance at hosting a home playoff game. The bar to reach last year was just nine wins. Baker Mayfield got to play hero in that division.

What they can’t give him:

The list starts with a head coach with any history of success. Raheem Morris is widely respected but only had a short stint with Tampa Bay as the head man that did not go particularly well. Likewise, Robinson has never been an offensive coordinator before. The receiver/tight end and running back are all high picks but have not reached their full potential yet and there’s no lock guarantee that they will.

The Falcons have $25 million in cap space, meaning they would need to shuffle around some dollars to fit Cousins under the cap and likely couldn’t be big time players for any other players.

Atlanta might also have other ideas at quarterback. He isn’t the only fish in the sea with a Justin Fields trade potentially on the horizon, Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield available as free agents and the Falcons within striking distance of a trade up in the draft. With other potential options the Falcons might not be willing to give Cousins the house in terms of an offer.


Cousins has said that winning is his top priority in finding a home. The Falcons have the best chance to host a home playoff game of any of his potential suitors based on the way they have built the squad over the past few down years and the down division. He would be the best quarterback in the South from Day 1 and have an offense that he already knows how to operate. Cousins would be landing in a place where he can be the clear cut leader and franchise face for however long he is a Falcon.

Atlanta, on paper, is simply the best landing spot for Cousins.

Minnesota Vikings

What they can give him:

Stability, stability, stability. Cousins knows the system, the players, the coach, the locker room, the facilities, the owners and the fans. Over the last two years he has become more comfortable than ever as the leader of the team and has won over teammates to the point of some campaigning for his return.

Kevin O’Connell has built the passing system around Cousins and works closely with him during the week and on the sideline. KOC’s encouragement and buy-in has had a cascading effect over the entire franchise when it comes to how Cousins is viewed and the leadership role he’s taken.

When we talk about weapons, the Vikings are arguably a top five team in the league. They bring the best receiver in the NFL, a rising star in Jordan Addison, a top-five tight end and an offensive line that just ranked in the top five in PFF pass blocking grade for the first time since Cousins arrived. The group’s chemistry has been building for years and the offseason would be a breeze in comparison to learning a new system elsewhere.

What they can’t give him:

The Vikings can’t give him much more in terms of a supporting cast. They have around $25 million in cap space per and while a restructure for Brian O’Neill and either retirement or a new contract for Harrison Smith would provide some breathing room it would be difficult for the team to chase big fish in free agency.

That could be a pretty serious problem because the Vikings have massive holes to fill. On offense they are short a starting left guard and WR3/WR4 and on defense they need three defensive linemen, a linebacker, at least one cornerback and possibly another safety just to build a starting lineup. That’s 40% of a total starting lineup. Not to mention that the best teams usually feature some depth.

Maybe the team has an answer for the running game but they have ranked 27th in Expected Points Added on the ground two years in a row and it’s not likely Saquon Barkley is signing in Minnesota if they use big dollars to bring back Cousins.

The Vikings can’t give Cousins an easy road to another division championship. The Detroit Lions are returning the vast majority of their NFC Championship roster, Green Bay is a team on the rise with a young core and quarterback who played like a superstar for the second half of the season and Chicago won seven games last year and has as many top 10 draft picks as the Vikings do top 100.


It would be tough for Cousins to leave the friendly confines and receivers of Minnesota. It would also take the total destruction of the future salary cap to even fill the roster around him to the point of being competitive and the collapse of (at least) two other NFC North teams for the Vikings to rise to the top of the division.

Kirk Cousins

Las Vegas Raiders

What they can give him:

For starters, Davante Adams. Cousins is used to playing with the best of the best at receiver and that would carry over in Vegas. Their No. 2 receiver is no slouch either. Jakobi Meyers has three straight 800-plus yard seasons.

The Raiders finished with a top 10 graded pass blocking unit, top 10 defense in points and have a head coach that brought some of the old school Raider edge to the franchise. They also have the 11th most cap space per OTC.

What they can’t give him:

If the Raiders could run far, far away from Patrick Mahomes, that would be great. But they can’t. They will forever be in the division of the greatest QB on earth, which is what Cousins dealt with in Minnesota with Aaron Rodgers towering over the North for his first five seasons in the division. No matter how good the other teams are, Mahomes rules until further notice.

Is Cousins a Vegas guy? Would he want his family to move to Sin City? Hard to say if that would be a factor but with the whole world gambling these days and the Vegas strip being closer to Disney Land than Satan’s playground, it might not be a big factor. Plus the team facility is in Henderson, not Fremont Street. Still, its reputation might matter to his family.

Would he like Pierce’s style? The team smokes cigars in the locker room after wins and seems ready for a back alley fight at any given time. Cousins played for a hard nosed coach not too long ago and it wasn’t a fit.

The Raiders have been a very volatile franchise. They can’t give Cousins a guarantee that the owner won’t fire the coach at the drop of a hat and in terms of a fan base, they don’t really have one now.


It’s not a bad fit. If the Raiders do not feel they can move up in the draft to pick a quarterback and aren’t sold on any of the other QBs (and aren’t interested in Russell Wilson or Justin Fields) then you could see Cousins getting them into the postseason with their strong defense and receivers.

Pittsburgh Steelers

What they can give him:

Somehow the Steelers never have losing seasons. They have one of the most widely respected head coaches in the NFL in Mike Tomlin and a franchise history steeped in success.

In terms of supporting cast, their top two receivers are extremely talented and combined for nearly 1,900 yards last year despite playing with three quarterbacks. They also have a quality pass-catching running back in Jaylen Warren and tight end in Pat Freiermuth.

While Arthur Smith didn’t work out as a head coach in Atlanta, he ran a play-action system that was terrific for Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. Cousins has played very well over the years under center when building the passing game off the run.

Cousins might not need to score many points to win in Pittsburgh. Since 2016 the Steelers have only finished outside of the top 10 in defense twice and last year they ranked sixth in points allowed.

What they can’t give him:

The AFC North is a bear. Between the league MVP at quarterback in Baltimore, a team so strong that they made the playoffs with Joe Flacco at QB and a club that was in the Super Bowl recently, there’s no way around the challenge of winning that beastly division.

The Steelers are in the red when it comes to current cap space so they would need to make sacrifices to acquire Cousins. Pittsburgh also ranked 31st by PFF in pass block grade.


Considering Pittsburgh made the playoffs despite ranked 24th in passing Expected Points Added, it’s not hard to project them as being a contender with a quality quarterback. However, if Joe Burrow and DeShaun Watson come back strong from injuries and the tough defenses of the North carry over, even a good season from Cousins might not be enough to even reach the playoffs.

Washington Commanders

What they can give him:

This one sounds crazy but it’s being thrown around by oddsmakers so it’s worth thinking about. The best argument is that the Commanders have three very important things: Cap space, a top notch receiver in Terry McLaurin and the No. 2 overall pick. Per OTC, they are sitting on $73 million in space, meaning they could add Cousins and go crazy in free agency while adding receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. in the draft.

Cousins’ history in DC has a lot of bitterness but the owner, coach and players are all different from when he was last in the nation’s capital. Dan Quinn is known as a positive-minded players coach. That along with former QB Kliff Kingsbury could be a good personality fit.

What they can’t give him:

The Commanders were bad last year. Super bad. Bad enough to draft No. 2 overall. Can they do enough around Cousins in a single year to overtake the stacked Cowboys and Eagles next year? That’s very tough to see.


In a philosophical world it makes some sense. Washington could give Cousins the most guaranteed money and their new owner might be so desperate to put a good team on the field that he wants the win-now option and is ready to spend every last dollar available to get back in the hunt. Practically speaking it’s just hard to see Cousins being comfortable going back to that franchise.

Denver Broncos

What they can give him:

Denver can offer Cousins a head coach that guided an aging Drew Brees to a lot of success from the pocket. They have underutilized weapons and some good players up front.

What they can’t give him:

That’s about it though. Denver is in a terrible situation with draft capital and cap space. No matter how willing to spend their ownership may be the Broncos look like a fourth place team even with a talented quarterback.


The Cousins Broncos have .500 written all over them.

Tennessee Titans

What they can give him:

Money, money, money.

What they can’t give him:

A good team.


Only if he’s looking for money, money, money.

New England Patriots

What they can give him:

The Patriots have a lot of cap space to spend ($66 million per OTC) and the No. 3 overall pick.

What they can’t give him:

Receivers, blocking, a proven coach, an easy division, a forgiving media market etc.


Save for a huge overhaul with the roster, it’s hard to see this one as a fit. The Patriots need to think long term.