NFL Rumors: Could Vikings use division rival’s desperation to replace Kirk Cousins?

Trades between division rivals are rare, but the Minnesota Vikings may be able to replace Kirk Cousins with Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields.

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins agreed to a four-year, $180 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons just a few hours into Monday's negotiating period.

Both head coach Kevin O'Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah claimed they wanted Cousins to return to Minnesota, but the move hardly comes as a surprise. All indications pointed toward this inevitable outcome — whether it was the financial ramifications of Cousins' contract, the quarterback's interest in moving to Atlanta, or the allegations of teams tampering with Cousins during the NFL Scouting Combine.

For the Vikings, replacing the veteran quarterback will be no simple task. Cousins was the best quarterback available during the 2024 free agency period, and there are few viable replacements left on the market. Minnesota currently holds the No. 11 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, which is not within distance to grab one of the top three quarterback prospects in this year's class.

If Adofo-Mensah elects to fill the position through a trade, he won't have to look far to find a team hoping to offload their quarterback.

Could Justin Fields be the next Minnesota Vikings quarterback?

Trades between division rivals are rare, but the Vikings may be able to replace Cousins with Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields.

The Bears plan on trading incumbent quarterback Justin Fields and selecting USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. That plan, however, hasn't gone as well as Chicago hoped it would.

General manager Ryan Poles reportedly wanted to trade Fields in exchange for a second-round pick, but the Bears haven't received the level of interest they was expecting for Fields, according to ESPN's Dan Graziano. It will be difficult to convince a team to cough up a second-round pick right after the New England Patriots trading quarterback Mac Jones to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth-round pick. Like Fields, Jones was a part of the 2021 NFL Draft quarterback class.

Fields has appeared to be on the verge of breaking out several times during his three years in the league, but he has failed to find consistency. The 25-year-old quarterback has electrifying moments, but Fields has failed to catch that lightning in a bottle. His flashes of brilliance are too inconsistent.

"Right now, the message the Bears are getting back from teams is that they don't consider Fields more of a sure thing than other potential one-year options such as Sam Darnold or Drew Lock," Graziano stated.

Minnesota would provide Fields with a better surrounding cast than Chicago. Still, even wide receiver Justin Jefferson can't do anything about a quarterback that struggles to deliver the ball with accuracy. Fields needs to develop as a passer, and any quarterback that can't move the ball through the air will struggle to find success in the NFL.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler added that the Bears "aren't panicked" despite the lack of buzz surrounding Fields. But as quarterback-needy teams begin to fill their vacancies, Chicago may begin to run out of options.

Chicago likely won't want to make a deal with a NFC North division rival, but if they believed in Fields as a starting quarterback, they likely wouldn't be moving on from him in the first place. Regardless, this wouldn't be the first that a team has traded a quarterback to a division rival after finding a better option. After finding quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots traded veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe to the Buffalo Bills.

Either way, Fields would be a significant downgrade from Cousins. In his six-year stint with Minnesota, Cousins started more games than all but two quarterbacks in franchise history, and threw more touchdown passes than all but one quarterback. He also led the Vikings to a division title, two playoff berths, and their first road playoff victory in 15 years.

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