With second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett behind center, the Pittsburgh Steelers have gone 10-7. But that isn’t stopping rumors from swirling that Pittsburgh may be interested in acquiring a quarterback upgrade.
The Athletic’s Dianna Russini and Touchdown Wire’s Jarrett Bailey both mentioned the Steelers as a team that could be interested in acquiring Minnesota Vikings veteran signal caller Kirk Cousins.
The 35-year-old quarterback leads the NFL with 13 passing touchdowns, but the Vikings own a 1-4 record. He will also become a free agent in March. However, there’s a lot of moving parts to a potential Cousins trade. That makes the possibility of the Steelers acquiring the 35-year-old complicated.
Does Kirk Cousins to the Steelers Make Sense?
While Russini suggested the Steelers as a potential landing spot for Cousins, she concluded that it’s not a deal likely to occur. Russini provided a few reasons for why.
“The other big problem in trading for Cousins would be finding a team that would give up premium draft assets and pay his salary,” Russini wrote. “Teams like the Jets, Steelers, Browns and Falcons would seem like possible trade partners, but I do not get a sense this is a move any of these organizations are looking to make.
“I also was told by team sources that Minnesota is not planning on trading him. They are always going to take a call, but I’ve had numerous conversations with league sources about the Vikings’ resistance to trading their starter and also the possibility that the team keeps Cousins past this season.”
For the Vikings to trade Cousins, the quarterback would have to waive his no-trade clause as well. Russini noted that Cousins, “has a family with two young boys in school in Minnesota.” Changing teams on short notice would cause Cousins to either uproot his family or live apart from them for the rest of the season.
Steelers Looking for Upgrade Over Kenny Pickett?
Similar to Russini, Bailey named multiple possible landing spots for Cousins if he’s traded. The Steelers were among Bailey’s top five potential destinations.
“Will the notoriously patient organization move on from Kenny Pickett this soon? Likely not,” Bailey wrote. “Would they benefit from moving on from Pickett and acquiring Cousins? Absolutely.”
The benefit, though, would only be in the short term. Again, Cousins will be a free agent in March, so to have the veteran quarterback for more than half a season, the Steelers would have to re-sign him.
The latest contract extension Cousins signed with the Vikings in March 2022 was a one-year deal worth $35 million. Even if the Steelers signed Cousins, he will turn 36 before the start of the 2024 season. He’s a short-term solution, which isn’t what the Steelers are seeking behind center.
Yes, the Steelers could become the AFC North favorites with Cousins this season, but Pittsburgh possesses a young offensive roster. The team wants Pickett to grow with its young offensive playmakers; not have a quarterback retire once all the pieces are in place to have an elite offense.
Cousins is 73-67-2 as an NFL starter. This season, he has completed 67.2% of his passes for 1,498 yards, 13 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He’s averaging 7.3 yards per attempt.
Pickett has posted a 59.7% completion percentage for 1,027 passing yards, 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions this season. He’s averaging 6.5 yards per attempt.