What’s next for Kirk Cousins? Keep eye on 49ers, Packers, Rams — and one off-the-radar team

After one season adjusting to move coach Kevin O’Connell’s offense with the Minnesota Vikings, Kirk Cousins had lastly settled into some perfection. He was strolling to the road of scrimmage with at least three performs in his again pocket, studying defensive disguises at arguably the very best stage of his profession, and discovering a groove with a handful of gamers past his most trusted weapon, wideout Justin Jefferson.

And that’s when the damage bug sunk its tooth to a vicious diploma, tearing Cousins’ Achilles and erasing the rest of a marketing campaign that was on its option to new statistical single-season highs in just about each class. Within the snap of a tendon, one of the crucial sturdy quarterbacks of the last decade was misplaced for the rest of the 2023 season. And every part after it was curled right into a singular query mark.

What occurs with Kirk Cousins now?

That’s going to be an entertaining curiosity, with Cousins seemingly heading for brand spanking new heights when his Achilles gave approach Sunday. A free-agent-to-be this coming offseason, the 35-year-old regarded like a quarterback with some prime years left in his arm. It is a actuality that ought to make him an intriguing prospect for just a few NFL groups this offseason that might be available in the market for a veteran if their seasons — or present starters — go sideways within the coming months.

Three particular suits may come into play, given their present quarterback conditions and the truth that they characteristic an offense rooted within the teaching tree and scheme of Kyle Shanahan: The San Francisco 49ers, Inexperienced Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams. There’s additionally the Miami Dolphins to think about, if Tua Tagovailoa suffered one other string of concussions.

And lest we overlook, there’s O’Connell, who now faces the duty of determining who can be his Vikings quarterback in 2024 and the way lengthy it would take that participant to soak up the offense. On Tuesday, O’Connell spoke about “coping” with shedding Cousins at a seeming peak in his recreation, then shifting to getting a take a look at the opposite quarterbacks on the roster. In that very same context, he stored the door open for a potential Cousins return.

Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell did not sound like he was prepared to maneuver on from Kirk Cousins for the 2024 season. (Picture by Michael Reaves/Getty Pictures)

“Like I’ve mentioned many instances, Kirk Cousins goes to be wholesome once more,” O’Connell mentioned. “I do know he’s going to be a free agent after this season, however Kirk is aware of how I really feel about him. That can be one thing that can hopefully work itself out. … You guys understand how I really feel about Kirk. Kirk is aware of how I really feel about Kirk. I feel he was taking part in in addition to anyone within the Nationwide Soccer League.”

Given a wholesome restoration, that stage of play on the time of Cousins’ damage will probably hold him on the thoughts of a mess of groups this offseason. These with some iteration of the Kyle Shanahan offense (and verbiage) could be essentially the most perfect suits as a result of they’d provide Cousins a chance to right away hit the bottom working in 2024. Because it stands, his restoration timeline from this week’s Achilles surgical procedure is unknown, but when it’s the sometimes optimistic window of 9 months, that might put Cousins again on the sector by coaching camp. If he’s a candidate for the “velocity bridge” process that was profitable for Los Angeles Rams working again Cam Akers — and which seems to be working wonders for Aaron Rodgers — Cousins might be figuring out for groups as early as April.

In fact, that’s all hypothesis in the meanwhile, very like the potential want for Cousins elsewhere. Something may occur over the rest of the season, however it is going to be price seeing how the quarterback conditions play out for the Vikings, 49ers, Rams, Packers and Dolphins.

Of that group, the Dolphins and Tagovailoa seem set for extension negotiations subsequent offseason, barring any form of damage that might jeopardize his profession. Stafford and the Rams additionally look like in good condition, though his UCL sprain once more raises the specter of an elbow drawback that clouds his future. On the very least, there can be renewed questions on whether or not Stafford will think about retirement subsequent offseason. In the meantime, the Packers will proceed to get an prolonged take a look at Jordan Love, but when the present development of mediocrity continues and Inexperienced Bay isn’t in place to draft one other quarterback in April, veteran bridge choices would nearly actually be on the desk for 2024.

After which there’s the 49ers, who in fact characteristic Shanahan and his longstanding admiration of Cousins. One month in the past, it appeared wildly unlikely {that a} reunion might be in play for the pair, whose relationship dates again to their time collectively in Washington. However starter Brock Purdy has now staggered via the worst three-game stretch of his profession, reviving the Shanahan microscope for a participant who may actually play himself out of the beginning job within the coming months. Not simply because Shanahan has notoriously excessive expectations for his quarterbacks, but additionally as a result of we nonetheless haven’t seen Purdy show that he can go right into a spiral like the present one and pull himself out.

For now, Cousins should wait out the subsequent three months to see what choices are realistically on the desk. Come subsequent offseason, a chronic restoration may pressure him to search for essentially the most advantageous backup spot within the league. The following rung up from that might be surveying franchises in search of a bridge starter. However the prime rung, which is what Cousins can be reaching for if his well being permits, can be a franchise that sees him as an prompt answer for a roster that’s able to compete in 2024 and past.

Between now and February, Cousins and the groups that may court docket him subsequent offseason are going to get an excellent take a look at who that can be.

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