30 in 20: No. 29, The Kirk Cousins Signing

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This article is part of the “30 in 20” series: a compilation of 30 of the most memorable Vikings moments of the past 20 years. To read more entries, click here.

March 2018

It was getting to be the most wretched time of the year in Minnesota: Spring.

We were slowly getting a taste of the next few months of eventual torture as snow was beginning to melt in the daytime, exposing four months worth of dirt, trash, and cigarette butts to the masses. This lovely goulash would freeze overnight, turning every morning sidewalk into a never-ending Russian roulette of “will this block be slippery?”

As such, I was at a bar around Minneapolis with some friends both drinking away the thought of the two most traumatizing seasons at that point in my life: the upcoming spring, and another patented “so-close-yet-so-far” season from the Vikings, having recently been demolished in the NFC Championship Game.

While wallowing in an old-fashioned, a friend of mine came up to the group and said, “My friend saw Kirk Cousins around the Mall of America. He yelled, ‘Come to the Vikings’ and Kirk smiled at him and said, ‘That’s the plan’. So we should be the frontrunners.”

And that’s just how it went with the Kirk Cousins news.

A highly touted quarterback had hit the free agency market, and it seemed the eventual landing spot changed every day as if Cousins was playing a game of “The Bachelor” in NFL Free Agency. And rumors were everywhere.

One day the New York Jets were the frontrunner, the next day the Denver Broncos seemed poised to land Cousins, later in the week the Vikings seemed to be a favorite.

It looked like the chance to finally secure a franchise quarterback after years and years of mediocre play and phantom injury curses had dissolved for the Vikings as reports came out that Cousins was looking to sign a fully-guaranteed $90 million deal with the New York Jets.

Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, and in an extremely atypical moment of Vikings luck, Cousins was merely using the Jets’ offer as leverage. This move caused the Vikings to up their offer from $75 million to $84 million, and the rest is history.

The contract at the time was extremely divisive among Vikings fans and the NFL community as a whole. Did Kirk Cousins really deserve the biggest contract in NFL history (at the time)?

Cousins is a lot of things, but like most humans, he isn’t perfect.

He’s not perfect when he holds on to the ball too long and takes an ill-advised sack, which may very well turn into a fumble.

He’s not perfect when the offensive line deteriorates, receivers are covered, and he has roughly three seconds before getting pummeled by a speeding edge rusher.

He’s not perfect when the lights are brightest, when the stakes are highest and the entire world is watching (Although, his defense certainly doesn’t do him any favors).

But there are a few things you could describe about Cousins that are about as perfect as one can get.

He’s perfect in a noon home game. If I am tasked for picking a quarterback — any quarterback — for a noon game at U.S. Bank Stadium, I am picking Cousins without hesitation. A 300-yard, 3 touchdown game from him in that scenario is about as sure a bet as you can get.

He’s pretty perfect in the regular season as a whole, actually. As in, he has the highest completion percentage in Vikings history for a quarterback that played for more than one year. As in, since joining the Vikings in 2018, he ranks top-5 in the NFL in completion percentage, touchdowns, and average quarterback rating.

He’s perfect when he pulls up to practice in his 2000 limited-edition conversion van, causing every eyeball in the state of Minnesota to simultaneously roll 45 degrees backwards.

And he does — from time to time — have the ability to be perfect when it counts.

Let me take you back to January 5, 2020 in New Orleans.

In overtime, when pressure was at its highest, a perfect 43-yard pass to Adam Thielen led to a perfect corner of the end zone pass to Kyle Rudolph, which led to a perfect playoff win for Kirk Cousins and the Vikings.

At the end of the day, the problem is that most fans want perfection all the time.

Every fan wants a Brady, a Rodgers, a Brees, or the next Mahomes. But when talking about a franchise with such volatile quarterback play, especially over the past 15 years, a true franchise quarterback should be a welcome sight.

Seasons come and go, hype builds up and diminishes, and not too long from now, I will undoubtedly be sitting at that same bar conversing about the next big-name quarterback that will be teasing coming to the Vikings.

But for now, Cousins is the captain.

Is he good enough to lead the team to a Super Bowl? I think so.

Will it happen? Probably not.

But let’s enjoy the ride.