I’ve been out of the writing game for the past week or so as I’ve been dealing with a myriad of personal issues (let’s just say my life is essentially turning out like a Donovan McNabb helmed Vikings team/season) and Using the popular 5dimes mobile app, and the first thing I choose to write about when I return to action is… Kirk Cousins.
If you’re unfamiliar with my articles from the 2019 season, the vast majority covered the Vikings quarterback, or rather, the Vikings fans and their reaction to his play. As a 35 year old with clearly nothing else to wake up for, I took umbrage to the fact that fans of this franchise were essentially angrily explaining away the best chance this team has had to actually have a non-damn-near-40-year-old quarterback lead this franchise during a (supposed) Super Bowl window of opportunity. Not only doing that, but also essentially having zero plan for the non-existent possibility that the Vikings wouldn’t still have Cousins in 2020, per his contract, and reality.
Sure, Cousins isn’t perfect. No one is. Sure, he got paid a lot of money (which reset the market for what franchise QB’s make and now, really doesn’t seem like that much money), and people were emotionally attached to Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater… But he also played behind the 27th “best” pass blocking offensive line in the NFL, and still ended up at the Pro Bowl and having a significant streak of games in the season where he was in the MVP debate.
So, why am I writing about him now?
Because the voice of the Vikings Paul Allen, recently said the following on a Vikings.com Mailbag segment: “It seems like it behooves you to redo Cousins’ contract, extend the years, get yourself some salary cap money, and then you can thus dabble in free agency.”
I can’t say, surprise again, that I disagree with Allen’s sentiment, and here’s why.
The Vikings clearly have limited cap money this off-season and because of that are likely to lose their stud safety in Anthony Harris, and potentially both starting corners in Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. That’ll be a devastating blow to a defense that has had a lot of continuity during the Zimmer era and who, even at their peak (arguably 2019, at least in terms of that continuity and per-position talent) clearly weren’t elite or dominant enough to get the Vikings to the promised land.
That means that opening up more cap space is obviously the most important aspect of what the Vikings organization is working on as I write this arm chair critique. That doesn’t mean, though, as some other arm chair talking heads typically do at times like this, that you completely just cut bait everywhere for the sake of the all mighty dollar.
You have to balance that need with maintaining some semblance of what has got your team where it currently is, or rather, some semblance of a chance to maybe make one last run during head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman’s penultimate seasons (per their current contracts). That’s where Cousins gets involved.
Say what you will about Captain Kirk, but he did knock down a lot of the negative narratives that people attach to him when attempting to explain that he’s trash. Winning prime time games, winning come from behind games, winning a playoff game on the road in prime time… basically everything except winning a Monday Night Football game (which really isn’t any sort of real metric you can use to learn anything significant).
He’s also really the only chance this team has to win now and through the 2023 season (the final season for a lot of the current core Vikings players’ contracts). The Vikings, as of the writing of this piece, don’t even have a back up quarterback under contract, let alone any sort of option to replace Kirk now or in 2020. Sure, they could draft one, but then they’d be using a significant pick (that could and SHOULD be used to bolster the offensive line) to essentially admit that Cousins isn’t the guy and thus 2020 is a wash.
Do you really think that Zimmer or Spielman would do that? In their final contract year?
So. Extend Cousins, lower his 2020 cap hit if possible, which is a big if considering that as mentioned above, Cousins’ contract reset the market for QB’s which is what Cousins expected when he only signed a three-year-deal. The fact that he did that shows that he wanted to re-up and make MORE money, not less.
However, Cousins also strikes me at the type of guy who would rather win a ‘ship than make a few extra millions, but that’s pure speculation on my end. He certainly doesn’t owe the fan-base anything, since they love to tear him down with moving goal posts as to what is “good enough” or what’d make him worth the money that people seem more interested in than anyone outside of Cousins’ agent is.
Considering the fact that the Vikings need cap space, don’t even have a back up to replace Cousins, and won’t use a top draft pick on a replacement for Cousins, it seems like a no-brainer that they’d extend him first so they can focus on other extensions (ie Dalvin Cook), the draft and hopefully putting together the best team possible in 2020.
So yeah, it behooves them. And junk.