Cousins reportedly left Vikings because of plan to draft replacement
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins throws out the first pitch prior to the game between the Atlanta Braves against the Texas Rangers at Truist Park. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins reportedly left Vikings because of plan to draft his replacement

Despite Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell’s desire to keep him around, quarterback Kirk Cousins bolted to the Atlanta Falcons during free agency, and now we know why.

SI.com’s Albert Breer recently reported in his post-draft takeaways that Cousins decision to leave Minnesota was partially fueled by the team’s decision to start looking for his future successor.

“A reason he decided to leave Minnesota is because the Vikings were very up front with the 35-year-old about the possibility that, even in the case he stayed, they’d take a quarterback of the future high in the draft,” Breer wrote. “Tying that together with the team’s willingness to guarantee part, but not all, of a second year on another contract, Cousins figured that, if he stayed, there was a good shot that he’d be on the move in 2025.”

Cousins signed a four-year, $180M contract with the Falcons back in March. It’s not known how much the Vikings were willing to offer Cousins in guaranteed money, but his deal with the Falcons gives him $100M in guarantees, including $90M guaranteed in the first two seasons.

It’s also not known if Cousins had re-signed with the Vikings if they still would have used one of their two 2024 first-round picks on a quarterback (they drafted Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy 10th overall a week-and-a-half ago.)

With Cousins in Atlanta now, his fears about being replaced after 2025 aren’t completely subsided. The Falcons drafted Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick in the draft, and he could be transitioned to the starting QB job by then.

Atlanta can trade Cousins during the 2025 offseason and save $27.5M in cap space and absorb only $12.5M in dead money, per Over the Cap, or it could cut him post-June 1 and take a $40M dead cap hit.

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