New team listed as a potential landing spot for Kirk Cousins in 2024

Dec 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) scrambles
Dec 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) scrambles / Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Despite what some analysts and pundits are saying, the Minnesota Vikings aren't rebuilding. Sure, they've parted with multiple longtime veterans in the name of shedding salary, but roster turnover is inevitable in today's NFL.

Unlike most teams who are operating with a win-now mindset, though, the Vikings don't currently have a long-term plan at quarterback. Kirk Cousins is set to become a free agent at the end of the year, and there's been no indication that Minnesota will resume extension talks before then.

It seems obvious that the Vikings will consider alternatives to Cousins next offseason.

That's a dangerous game to play given their might not be an upgrade readily available, but the franchise has seemingly reached a ceiling in the playoffs with the four-time Pro Bowler manning the controls of the offense.

While it remains unclear whom the Vikings may target as Cousins (potential) replacement, speculation of where the 34-year-old might play next has already started.

Appearing on the "The Reich Eisen Show" this week, reporter Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk mentioned the Rams (!) as a new team that could make a run at Cousins.

Vikings Rumors: Kirk Cousins could join the Rams in 2024

What makes this story even more compelling is that Florio believes the Rams and 49ers could fight tooth and nail for Cousins.

"“Rich, let’s play it out to March of next year,” Florio said. “I think you’re gonna see – unless the Vikings re-sign him by then and they can’t use the franchise tag on him the way his contract is structured – you’re gonna see a potential tug-of-war between Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay for Kirk Cousins next March. Mark that down.”"

This isn't the first time Cousins has been linked with the 49ers. It's been reported throughout the offseason that San Francisco and Minnesota had talks about a Cousins trade. Some reports indicated Trey Lance was included in those discussions, but nothing materialized.

The Rams, however, are a new entry to the Cousins discourse.

For Sean McVay and company to conceivably pursue Cousins, though, they likely have to bank on current starter Matt Stafford retiring.

If Stafford returns for another season, his contract is essentially unmovable, as cutting him would result in $86.5 million in dead money, per Over The Cap.

Trading the 35-year-old would come with a $55.5 million dead cap charge for LA, which is working hard to get its cap back in a healthy place after their 2020 Super Bowl triumph.

The Rams have turned a blind eye to the cap before -- they ate a ton of dead money to acquire Stafford two years ago. Why would they reopen that door to swap one veteran QB for another when their current option led them to a world championship just a few years ago?

Again, this all hinges on Stafford retiring after 2023. That's possible given his age and injury history, but Vikings fans shouldn't go picturing Cousins in a blue and gold uniform just yet.