If the New York Jets want any chance of salvaging this season, they need to make a move for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Coming off of the heels of their thrilling overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills in their season opener — the same game in which they lost Aaron Rodgers to a torn Achilles injury — the Jets came back down to earth as they were flat-out dominated by the Dallas Cowboys, 30-10, in Week 2.
While the Jets’ previously highly-regarded defensive unit failed to show, Zach Wilson — who led the game-tying drive touchdown drive during the fourth quarter in the win over the Bills — also failed to impress, once again showing he’s nowhere near close to being a viable starting quarterback.
And this is where Cousins comes into the picture.
The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback is currently leading a 0-2 Vikings squad that resembles more of a rebuilding squad than a contending one. Coming off of a season in which Minnesota won just about every close game — Cousins led an NFL-record eight-game winning drives during the 2022 season — Minnesota is now on the wrong end of things, having lost two one-possession games to begin the 2023 season.
With Cousins going through the final year of his contract and the Vikings remaining non-committal to the veteran quarterback, it’s time for Minnesota to move their starting quarterback and acquire draft assets that will help them find their next franchise quarterback.
Through five full seasons as the franchise quarterback, Cousins has won one playoff game — during the 2019 season — and the Vikings have clearly reached their ceiling with the 35-year-old leading the way.
It’s time for the Vikings to move on. Which means it’s time for the Jets to swoop in.
New York entered the season with high expectations after acquiring Rodgers. However, those hopes were quickly dashed when Rodgers was essentially ruled out for the rest of the year due to his torn Achilles in the first offensive drive of the season opener.
Acquiring Cousins to pair with one of the league’s top defensive units may be the cure.
Yet again, Wilson struggled all game. The young quarterback was harassed by a ferocious Cowboys pass rush from the opening whistle until the very end. The box score shows that Dallas got off only three sacks on Wilson, but the statistics don’t show the entire story.
As Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic points out, Wilson was pressured on 13 of his 27 dropbacks. Unsurprisingly, the 24-year-old didn’t fare too well when under duress, going 4-for-10 for 34 yards and one interception.
Even when Wilson wasn’t under pressure, there simply wasn’t much to get excited about. Yes, Wilson showed some chemistry with No. 1 receiver Garrett Wilson for a 68-yard touchdown in the first half. And yes, Wilson continued to show that he has some mobility when the offensive line breaks down, rushing for 36 yards on five carries.
Head coach Robert Saleh defended his young quarterback following the blowout loss, saying he did a “nice job.”
“I thought he did a nice job,” Saleh said. “Obviously, late in the game, he had to force the ball to make something happen and, obviously, it didn’t go our way. There was a miscommunication on one of his interceptions with him and the back. They have a hell of a front. He did a really nice job in the pocket, extending plays, scrambling. He had a couple of nice off-schedule plays. It just wasn’t good enough.”
But the offense clearly has a ceiling with Wilson at quarterback. The young passer continues to struggle with accuracy, turnovers and simply sustaining drives. Not only did the Jets finish with just 10 points on 11 offensive drives, they turned the ball over on interceptions on their three final drives.
That means in the Jets’ 20 offensive drives with Wilson under center — not including drives ending in kneel-downs at the end of the half — New York has scored a total of 26 points. Just two of those drives have ended in touchdowns while five of them have ended in turnovers.
In other words, the Jets are scoring 1.3 points per offensive drive with Wilson under center. The average points per drive during the 2022 season was 1.92 points.
While some media members are defending Wilson, pointing out the Jets’ lackluster offensive line and the young quarterback’s improved footwork, his turnovers and simple lack of execution isn’t any better than it was last season.
It was the very reason why the Jets benched Wilson multiple times in favor of career backups such as Mike White and Chris Streveler last season. Heck, it was the very reason why the Jets acquired Rodgers in the first place.
Pulling off a trade for Cousins would obviously require him to waive his no-trade clause and it would mean the Jets would have to absorb his $20.25 million salary for this season. However, it’s worth noting that the Vikings would probably take care of some of Cousins’ salary in any potential trade this season.
Considering Cousins is on the verge of likely finishing his Vikings career with a non-playoff season, he would certainly welcome an opportunity to play with a stacked defense and a legit No. 1 receiver in Wilson. Playing for the Jets would represent Cousins’ best opportunity at winning a Super Bowl to date.
While New York likely won’t press the panic button in the coming days, they’ll have until October 31 — the trade deadline — to decide whether or not they need to upgrade at quarterback.
Sooner rather than later, they’ll realize that Wilson — once again — is not the answer. And maybe, just maybe, Cousins can be that guy for the Jets as they look to salvage the 2023 season.