The fact that the 49ers reportedly made an attempt to trade for quarterback Matthew Stafford confirms what many have suspected for months.
With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo entering the outer years of his contract, with a relatively minimal cap charge associated with trading or cutting him, all options are on the table as the 49ers determine the identity of their quarterback for 2021.
The 49ers have only $2.8 million in unallocated signing-bonus charges arising from the contract given to Garoppolo three years ago. He has a $24.1 million base salary for next season, none of which is currently guaranteed — and none of which becomes guaranteed at any point before the start of the regular season.
Thus, the 49ers can treat Garoppolo like any other potentially available quarterback option that may be available to them. Whether it’s pursuing a free agent who may become available or whether it’s trading for an established option at the position, the 49ers can do whatever they want to do.
Last year, they considered adding quarterback Tom Brady. They decided to stick with Garoppolo. The fact that Brady has vaulted the Buccaneers in his first year with the team to the Super Bowl surely has the 49ers wondering whether they made the right call.
The Vikings first would have to be willing to trade Cousins. Before the Vikings would do that, they’d need to be willing to absorb $20 million in dead money for 2021. They’d also need to be confident that they have another viable option at quarterback.
Minnesota could try to trade for Deshaun Watson, if he’d be willing to play there. But that would require multiple first-round draft picks (probably three) and maybe more.
Although Cousins has played well during three seasons in Minnesota, the Vikings have only one playoff appearance during his tenure with the team. However, absent someone in whom they’d have sufficient faith for 2021. They’d potentially be taking a step back, especially since they currently have no offensive coordinator.
By 2022, things could be very different. But 2022 may as well be 2032, as far as the Vikings are concerned. Despite the hard ceiling that seems to reside over Minnesota’s chances to contend at a high level in 2021. The folks who need to get as close to that ceiling as possible next season likely will decide. Cousins gives them the best chance to do so UFA.
So where does that leave the 49ers? That remains to be seen, as the coaching carousel begins to spin. Thanks to the kick start that the Saturday night news of a Lions-Rams quarterback trade has provided.
Regardless of where things end up, it’s obvious that the 49ers already have begun to explore all available options.