How Do The Vikings Upgrade on Kirk Cousins?
What do the numbers say?Whether Vikings fans choose to accept this or not, Kirk Cousins is a top 10 quarterback in this league. Not only do the numbers support this fact, but the numbers also make a very strong case that Cousins should be quite high on that list. Since coming to the Vikings he has thrown 91 touchdown passes (5th behind Mahomes, Wilson, Brady, and Rodgers) and is graded 7th by PFF since that time. All this while being the 5th most sacked quarterback in that time (107). In 2020, the Vikings were 15th in passes attempted, despite being on a run-heavy team (run it 43% of snaps), Kirk was 7th in passing yards and 6th in touchdown passes. Despite consistently producing at well above average level, many Vikings are yet to be convinced by Kirk Cousins. Which begs the question, why? Is it because he doesn’t perform in the ‘clutch’? Or is it because he is so overpaid? Well, neither of those things are true as hard as that may be for a few of you to admit. A few of you read the numbers and your first thoughts would probably be ‘garbage time numbers, they don’t count’ but again, not true. Kirk Cousins was the 2nd highest-graded quarterback in the 4th quarter this past season and lead the league in 4th quarter passer rating (136.4) while scoring a league-high 13 touchdowns (7 when the game is within 10 points). That’s as ‘clutch’ as your quarterback can be. It is safe to say he is worthy of the money he is being paid, but if you still think it may a little much let’s break it down a little. In 2020 Kirk Cousins’ contract was $21.000.000, making him the 15th highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. That would suggest he might be on the underpaid side of that coin. In 2021 however, he is due $31.000.000 making him the 5th highest-paid quarterback in the league. At first glance, this may seem a little high, but this doesn’t take into consideration guys like Mahomes and Watson who have recently received extensions or guys still on their rookie deals. So no, he is not overpaid.
So what is the real problem?It seems to be a new issue with the Vikings every year and when they have managed to solve one, another one just happens to pop up. But if you for a second put your Kirk agenda to the side and look at the team from an objective standpoint. The Vikings’ biggest issue is the fact that the defense has not been able to replicate and get close to the dominant force they once were. In 2018 when the Vikings acquired Cousins, the assumption was that they would be upgrading at quarterback and things would remain intact on the other side of the ball but that never materialized. From a defense that ranked #1 in 2017, the Vikings have gradually slid down the defensive rankings to a team that finished 30th overall in 2021. For the first time in years, it was the offense that carried the team from a disastrous 1-5 start to the brink of the playoffs and ending with a more respectable 7-9 record. Losing 3 games by 3 points or less. If the defense can present any semblance of what Vikings fans are used to seeing and the offense continues to develop and grow with these young pieces the Vikings can be a serious contender, even with an overrated overpaid guy at the quarterback position.