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Trading for Kirk Cousins would be a legendarily awful move for the Panthers

Carolina are desperate, and this is coming closer to a reality.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers are miserable, and that could cause them to make one of the most monumental mistakes in franchise history. Reports emerged Monday that Carolina have had conversations about trading for quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Desperation from head coach Matt Rhule has brought us to this moment, and the possibility of trading for a QB like Cousins has been a long-standing joke amongst fans. Now that it appears to be a growing reality, it’s not funny anymore. It would mortgage the Panthers’ future for short-term, job-saving gains, while admitting the front office has no clue how to evaluate talent at the quarterback position.

Carolina isn’t new to passer frustration. From the second Rhule arrived, he’s woefully misjudged the position. The team cut Cam Newton shortly after Rhule was hired, a sign the coach wanted to go in a new direction, and as a replacement the team spent a majority of its free agent money to sign Teddy Bridgewater. It wasn’t long before it was clear Bridgewater wasn’t the answer either, and he was traded after one season to the Denver Broncos for the sixth round pick.

Next up was Matthew Stafford, who the Panthers were clamoring to acquire prior to the draft. Then, when the Rams offered a better trade package, and a location more desirable than Carolina, the Panthers moved on. Trading for Sam Darnold and ignoring QB in the 2021 NFL Draft, Carolina talked a big game about Darnold’s potential. After a few starts they were so smitten they picked up his option — and when that exploded too, the floundering team re-signed Newton. There was no real plan or desire to use Newton by the coaching staff, and it became clear the signing was essentially a PR move to make the fanbase happy when they were growing frustrated with Rhule’s incompetence.

Now history is repeating once more, and the team looks to be going after Kirk Cousins, and it makes no damn sense.

In order for the premise of Cousins being “the answer” it has to work under the assumption that the Panthers are a QB away from being a contender — which they are not. This is a team with a piecemeal, floundering offensive line, only one reliable receiver in D.J. Moore, big-money running back Christian McCaffrey has become injury-prone, and coaches on both sides of the ball are jumping off this sinking ship and heading to new teams, in preparation of a regime change.

There is absolutely nothing about the Carolina Panthers that points to them being any better than a 7-10 or 8-9 team AT BEST if they have Cousins as their starting QB. In addition, there’s the reality that the Vikings are far closer to winning a Super Bowl than the Panthers are. So, using basic logic, why would Minnesota trade their starter to another NFC team unless they had no belief in Cousins being a difference maker?

It’s unclear what the cost would be to trade for Cousins, but whatever it is, it’s too much. The Panthers need to keep all their draft picks to rebuild a broken franchise, and no front office with any competence should give Rhule more resources to find a QB when he’s failed numerous times already.

When I say it would be a legendary mistake, I mean it. There’s no hyperbole there. The risks are abundantly clear for very little payoff. Aside from the resources given up to get Cousins, the team delays the necessary and obvious offensive rebuild to make it happen. More reps on McCaffrey’s ailing body, another year or two of D.J. Moore’s prime wasted, all in service of a lame duck coach desperately trying to prove he’s not the worst hire in franchise history.

Now, in terms of the Vikings, they should run to make this deal as soon as humanly possible and then laugh as they get something in return for a player they won’t re-sign next year. Minnesota needs to find a top-tier QB to get them to the next level, and if they can find a sucker to take Cousins off their hands, more power to them.

The Panthers absolutely have the potential to be that sucker.