NFL rumors: Vikings' chances at keeping Kirk Cousins take another major hit

All signs are pointing to Kirk Cousins leaving the Minnesota Vikings in free agency for the Atlanta Falcons. What has gotten us to this point? What are the tea leaves trying to tell us in all of this?

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

There is a chance we have seen the last of Kirk Cousins playing in a Minnesota Vikings uniform. He will be hitting NFL free agency, arguably as the best quarterback going to market for the third or fourth time in his illustrious career out of Michigan State. While Minnesota holds all the cards to possibly retain him, the next most likely team to end up signing him would be the Atlanta Falcons.

Cousins' wife Julie is from the Metro Atlanta area, as she hails from Alpharetta and is a University of Georgia graduate. Not only do his in-laws live there, but the Falcons now run an offense similar to what he has played throughout much of his NFL career. New Atlanta offensive coordinator Zac Robinson stems from the same Sean McVay/Kyle Shanahan coaching tree as does Kevin O'Connell.

But perhaps most importantly, Cousins' potential departure from Minnesota has everything to do with how his contract is set up. If he is not re-signed by the Vikings by March 13, Minnesota will then have to carry $28.5 million in dead cap, no matter what happens, because of previous restructures to his contract. This is a soft deadline to get a deal done. Otherwise, a team like Atlanta could swoop in.

Listen to what Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team had to say about the Cousins situation. It is great stuff!

Although Atlanta could still trade up to No. 3 to draft someone like Jayden Daniels out of LSU in a blockbuster deal with the New England Patriots, the Falcons can just as easily stand pat and take the best available player at No. 8. Also, it seems like the Falcons are good with paying big-time money to sign Cousins in free agency. They are in a weak division and may only be a better quarterback away...

NFL rumors: Kirk Cousins is increasingly likely to leave Minnesota Vikings

If Cousins were to come to Atlanta, he would become the best starting quarterback in the division over Derek Carr, Baker Mayfield and Bryce Young. Rarely has he been that in any division he plays in, but that would be the case for the time being in Atlanta. By going to the Falcons, he would be going to a team with a ton of weapons offensively that plays inside of a dome in a very winnable NFC South.

If going to Atlanta makes his wife happy, then it could mean an even happier life for the soon-to-be 36-year-old quarterback. Assuming that general manager Terry Fontenot can continue to build a winner around him, Cousins could be on a multi-time playoff team in Atlanta before he rides off into the sunset. If Cousins were to walk, it means the Vikings will be absolutely drafting his replacement.

Conceivably, they could sign someone like a Sam Darnold or a Jameis Winston to be their stop-gap while someone like Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy gets ready to get ready waiting in the wing. Furthermore, how general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah goes about the Cousins situation will indicate the Vikings' future. No matter how you slice it, eating that much dead money is never great.

The only place with a worse financial situation around its quarterbacks would have to be in Denver.

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