This is a guest post from www.purplePTSD and managing editor of purplePTSD and VikingsTerritory, Joe Oberle.
If you are paying attention to the quarterback situation in Minnesota, don’t get it confused with the current White House administration (where faces are changing just as quickly). But do recognize that the Vikings will not the look the same next season behind center. Case Keenum is reportedly going to Denver and there are rumors Teddy Bridgewater is going to the Jets—while the biggest news may be that Kirk Cousins is coming to Minnesota.
That’s not exactly been a state secret since everybody has been reporting it (then again, that might make it qualify). But reports are surfacing everywhere that Kirk Cousins is coming to the Vikings. That makes many people in these parts happy, but I am more of a “prove it to me” guy in this case.
And that’s exactly what Keenum did last season. He proved that he is more than just a serviceable backup in this league. By leading the Vikings to their second-best record in team history (13-3) and to the NFC title game, Keenum has shown that he is a very capable signal caller, has great poise and escapability in the pocket, can find open receivers, extend plays with his feet, wins ball games early and late and has been durable throughout his career.
Unfortunately, the powers that be with the Vikings don’t apparently think that Keenum is the QB of the future in Minnesota. They instead must feel that those gunslinger throws that occasionally turned into some very bad interceptions (the one against Philadelphia does not count here since he was hit on the play) are going to repeat themselves. They don’t feel, it appears, he has the arm strength to throw downfield often and create a dynamic vertical threat in the offense. They basically didn’t feel that he would repeat the season he had in 2017 and take the Vikings back to the NFC Championship and perhaps a level further to the promised land.
At least that is what it looks like.
Keenum is reportedly heading to the Broncos for two years and $18 million—a price that would have allowed the Vikings to keep all their other star players who are or will very soon be coming up for new contracts—Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs, Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter, to name a few. If those figures are correct, Keenum is taking money that proves other teams around the league want to see another season from him before offering the big money to him—which is exactly what the Vikings will now have to do with Cousins.
The options in the changing face at Vikings quarterback are drying up: Keenum (reportedly) to Denver, radio stations in New York saying Teddy to the Jets and rumors of Sam Bradford to Buffalo or perhaps even to Arizona, who is also in need of a signal caller. So, that means the Vikings are going to have to be all in on Cousins, which might cost them a cap-straining number that is reportedly $28 million a year. And some capologists have said that it will also cost them one or two of those players coming up for contracts.
That is a hefty price, if you ask me, since Keenum was successful for the very reason that those star players around him played so well last season. Some say the only knock on Cousins is that he hasn’t had the same supporting cast as he would surely find here in Minnesota. But if bringing in Cousins to the ready-to-win-big Vikings team is the very thing that will put a chink in the armor of that stellar Purple supporting cast, how can that be a sound maneuver? Hopefully, Vikings cap guy Rob Brzezinski has assured the team that they can make it work with all their players.
Cousins has a bigger arm than Keenum. He has the similar poise in the pocket to Keenum (although the rap on Cousins is that he is not so great under pressure). He can extend plays with his legs. He has great numbers in touchdowns versus interceptions ratios. And he has a longer track record of winning as a starter than Keenum does. Some experts conjecture that the only thing Cousins is missing is a better team around him. Well, if he indeed becomes a Vikings, he will have the opportunity to validate that notion.
Perhaps I am more of a “dance with the devil you know” than bringing in a different devil. The Vikings know what they have in Keenum (and in Teddy and Sam for that matter) and I don’t see Cousins as such a marked improvement (at least no a $10 million per year guaranteed more marked improvement) that he is worth the gamble that you might lose your great supporting cast.
I could be proven wrong—and I hope that I am. But I sure hope Cousins is coming at a cap friendly number and the Vikings can drop him in behind the wheel of already purring Mercedes and light it up. Or else the Cousins acquisition could throw the car in reverse and the team will take a step backwards, rather than forward next season.