When Peter King of NBC Sports talks, people listen. His blockbuster hypothetical three-way trade involving Kirk Cousins to the San Francisco 49ers is no different. It certainly has created a buzz, especially for the Forever Faithful.
A potential multi-team trade involving the 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, and Houston Texans, is a crazy one that has everyone talking.
"This is centered on the premise that San Francisco would not want to rip apart a team and a future, and might be willing to take a lesser deal for a quarterback Shanahan has long admired," King said.
In this potential trade, the 49ers would give up their 2021 first-round pick (No. 12) while also sending QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the Houston Texans. Something I pointed out earlier in my podcast when discussing QB Deshaun Watson coming to San Francisco.
But why would the Texans want Garoppolo? The same reason why the Detroit Lions were willing to take on QB Jared Goff's contract. It's the dynamic relationship between the new general manager and quarterback.
New Lions GM Brad Holmes was the director of college scouting when Goff was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, and current Texans GM Nick Caserio was the Director of Player Personnel with the New England Patriots when they drafted the Eastern Illinois product.
The second moving part of this deal involved the Vikings. In this scenario, GM Rick Spielman gives up the farm to win the Watson sweepstakes.
Minnesota gives up two veteran players, a 2021 first-round pick (No. 14), a 2023 first-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2023 second-round pick. In all, giving up six assets for Watson.
But who are those veteran players? And why would Caserio want those players in the first place? Let's peel back layers of the onion to get to the core.
First off, any new GM wants a fresh start and a clean slate. By dumping RB David Johnson, the team would save $6.4 million in cap space. A move that was questionable to begin with as Bill O'Brien traded away arguably the best wide receiver in the game in WR DeAndre Hopkins last year while getting damaged goods in return, it's a fresh of breath air for Caserio as he looks to create cap health.
In return for Watson, the Texans would yield a younger, cheaper, running back in RB Alexander Mattison. A 2019 third-round pick, who is tied to a rookie deal through 2022. Getting younger while adding long-term cap health all while wiping hands clean of an aging running back? Sounds like a win to me.
And then there's current Texans free-agent OLB Brennen Scarlett. The starting outside linebacker is likely looking for work elsewhere in 2021. That leaves a gaping hole in the team's 3-4 base.
Why not ask for Vikings OLB Anthony Barr in the deal to be the plug-and-play? A smart move by Caserio as he upgrades at the position while not yielding valuable draft capital to fill the positional need. Another win.
However, the best part of this deal for the Texans has to be the draft capital. Houston gains draft flexibility over the next few years starting in 2021 with the No. 12 and No. 14 picks.
They can maneuver the 2021 draft, how they see fit. They can trade up for a coveted prospect or trade down, gaining even more draft capital which benefits their long-term game. Either way, Caserio has options. That's what Caserio ultimately wants at the end of the day.
Simply put, if Caserio is going to trade away his franchise quarterback, he better yield one or two plug-and-play depth pieces while recouping draft capital from Bill O'Brien's mishaps. And that's exactly what King's trade proposal does.
And then there's the Niners, and the analysis you all have been waiting for. By giving up their first-round pick (No. 12) and Garoppolo, they yield 33-year-old QB Kirk Cousins.
A realistic scenario but one I'm not in favor of. We all know 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan loves Cousins. He has a certain admiration and affinity toward him, dating back to their days in Washington.
He knows the system, makes sound decisions, and is a quarterback you can win with. But at age, 33, is the instant gratification worth yielding long-term gains?
By trading No. 12, you risk losing out on drafting a young cornerback to replace CB Richard Sherman or solidifying the suspect offensive line. This edge class isn't the strongest as in years past, so reaching for an edge at 12 is unlikely.
That leaves the 49ers in a tough spot. Do they mortgage their future once again for a rental player? They already did it in 2019 with the mid-season trade for WR Emmanuel Sanders, sending a third and fourth-round draft pick to the Denver Broncos.
In 2020, they gave up another third-round pick for left tackle Trent Williams. Will he return in 2021? That remains to be seen, as I broke down that in my earlier podcast, while many believe he will test the waters in free agency.
While this trade is realistic, it is one that I am not in favor of. The 49ers are not one or two players away from reaching a Super Bowl. The defense lost its defensive leader in Robert Saleh while taking coaches with him to New York.
Remember, offensive line coach John Benton bolted San Francisco to be reunited with Saleh, so the adjustment period for adapting to a new positional coach infused with different talent in 2021, should be something thing to watch for this anticipated revamped 49ers offensive line.
You take it a step further and you get an aging quarterback with two years left on his contract. The perfect storm of re-creating a Super Bowl window is going to be challenging. In two years' time, do you believe the 49ers can honestly be Super Bowl contenders? Maybe.
But it will be a hard thing to do especially if the team neglects to address the offensive line, putting whomever the quarterback is at a disadvantage before the ball is snapped.
I said it once and I'll say it again -- teams are built from the inside out and if you want to win Super Bowls, you better get yourself an offensive line who can protect the team's most valuable asset, which is unquestionably the quarterback. Build the line and success will follow.