This offseason, as is the case every year, there are several teams around the NFL that will be looking to make a change at the quarterback position. The Carolina Panthers are expected to be one of these teams.
The Carolina Panthers are reportedly interested in making a play for Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Per Judd Zulgad, “The Panthers have reportedly made a call to [Minnesota] about possibly acquiring QB Kirk Cousins.”
The Minnesota Vikings quarterback offers consistency at the position that could prove highly valuable to teams that feel they’re a quarterback away from making a serious run in the postseason.
The Panthers could fix a ton of their problems with the right guy under center for them. It won’t be easy for them if they go through with a trade. The Panthers only have about $20 million of cap space to play with. And taking on Cousins contract would be a $35 million hit.
The Athletic’s Chadd Graff recently dissected all the possible routes the Vikings could go in a trade involving Cousins.
“I wanted to find another recent deal to compare a prospective Cousins trade to, and many around the league pointed to the 2018 deal that sent Alex Smith to Washington, coincidently to replace Cousins. Smith was traded for a third-round pick and a young player who had been taken in the third round two years earlier — so essentially two third-round picks. Like Cousins, Smith had one year left on his contract. Cousins is 33. Smith was 33 when he was traded.
But there are two additional things to keep in mind. The first is that Cousins is better than Smith was; thus, in theory, he should be worth more than Smith. But the second is that Cousins’ cap hit is considerably higher. Smith’s cap hit was $18.4 million, or 10.3 percent of the salary cap back then. The $35 million cap hit a team would incur by taking on Cousins would be 16.8 percent of the projected $208 million salary cap for 2022. Very few teams have the space to take on a player with that large of a hit.
Because of that, the number of teams capable of making a trade for Cousins without the Vikings taking on additional money is slim. The top options for a Cousins trade seem to be the Broncos, Steelers and Panthers, with a couple of other teams perhaps marginally interested. The Panthers wouldn’t have enough cap space to incur an additional $35 million. The Broncos and Steelers barely would, but that’s without factoring in free agents or a rookie draft class.
The Panthers traded a second-round pick and two Day 3 picks for Sam Darnold last offseason. A change of scenery wasn’t enough for Darnold to improve his stature in the NFL with Darnold throwing more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (9) for a second straight season.
Carolina could trade Darnold elsewhere and recover some draft capital to be used in a trade for Cousins.