Stop dreaming up trade scenarios, the Vikings should be finding a way to extend Kirk Cousins…
“It’d be like getting invited to your own wake and then funeral and then burial.”
This is the way that a friend of mine recently described this week in Vikings football for Mike Zimmer, Rick Spielman, Kirk Cousins, et al. The season’s not yet complete, but everybody’s talking about life without you looking into next season.
I guess that’s what happens when your final game is completely meaningless.
It’s not 100% certain where it will occur, but change is imminent for the Minnesota Vikings heading into the offseason. It might come at the coaching level. It might pop up higher than that in the front office. It’s certainly going to surface in some form within the locker room with the players. This team will look different when Training Camp opens up seven months from now. Just how different though, is yet to be seen.
While conversations surrounding the future of Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman are dominating the headlines, the ever-present groundswell of parting ways with Kirk Cousins had a moment again this week. It came in the form of trade rumors and quickly shifted to visions of a future out from under his $45 million contract next season.
To be honest, I get it.
There’s a lot that this team could do with an extra $45 millions floating around as they look to replace key pieces on both sides of the ball. But maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way?
Maybe, instead of trying to find a team that has a void at the quarterback position and also fits Kirk’s skillset perfectly and also can cover up his weaknesses well and also has weapons to throw to and also has the cap space to take on his big contract, maybe we should be looking at this differently.
After all, it’d be hard to argue that Kirk is a bad quarterback. Say whatever you want about whether or not he has the “IT” factor, or whether you think he can win in primetime or in the playoffs. Have those conversations ’til you’re blue in the face, but you cannot tell me he’s a bad quarterback.
The numbers are there, the skill is there, the consistency…it’s there sometimes, so I guess by nature it’s not totally there…but is that the fault of Cousins? If you have doubts about Cousins legitimacy in the NFL, just pop over to Dustin Baker’s twitter account and give it a good scroll. You’ll find countless stats that highlight Cousins prowess as a top-10 quarterback in the league. Imagine the possibilities if the offense were to be reimagined around him, and Dalvin, and Jefferson and Irv Smith Jr. and Thielen…I LIKE THAT!
The desire for a fresh start is understood. The regime as it looks today, is not working, but does that mean that you totally need to clean house? I’d argue no, and furthermore I’d argue that nobody here in Minnesota really wants that either.
On the surface, life after Cousins might have a “grass is greener” allure to it, but how soon we forget what the Ponder/Webb/Bridgewater/Bradford/Keenum eras were really like. It was seasons of thwarted development with a moment here or there sprinkled in to give hope. But ultimately it was nothing more than a temporary bandages over a large wounds.
We don’t want that again, especially in a year where the quarterback class isn’t all that much to write home about.
If you trade Kirk, you get out from under the contract for next season, you get a 1st round pick in return…then what? You take that money to replace on defense and keep building on offense…but who’s the quarterback? There’s even crazy theories suggesting they bring in a stop-gap like Mitchell Trubisky for a season…you really want that over what we have now? At best, you’d be starting over with developing a rookie quarterback, we haven’t had the best history with those.
Let’s say that it was even a top-flight rookie, in a top flight class. Would Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance or Justin Fields make you feel any better about the immediacy or even the future of this team?
The better plan might be to change the way that we’re looking at everything and offer Kirk a new start…here in Minnesota.
Change up the leadership, change up the decision making, make whatever changes you see necessary at the coaching and GM positions, but rework Kirk’s contract into something that’s more palatable and offer him an extension to stay here in Minnesota. You heard it from the horse’s mouth, he wants to finish his career here in Minnesota, let him.
We saw this sort of thing happen with Drew Brees and the Saints year after year. He’d sign a big contract and then rework it a year or two later moving some guaranteed money around, adjusting a signing bonus here, freeing up cap space there and, voila! It works for both parties. Now this is clearly acting under the assumption that both sides would be okay with something like this (they should be) and that a new regime would be okay with this (they also should be), it should be a win, win for all involved. Kirk gets stability, stays in Minnesota; the Vikings get cap-space and don’t have to start over at quarterback simultaneously with other resets.
With a new coaching staff, Kirk should see a crack at having the first retained offensive coordinator for a two year period of time that he’s had since coming over from Washington. That offers the constructs of year-to-year consistency that we’ve never seen him have a chance to operate under. And on the other side of the equation, a new coach should be thrilled to be starting their tenure in Minnesota with Cousins rather than a rookie QB or another stop-gap option.
This would then appear to be the best case scenario and likely the most realistic for the Vikings looking to next season. Extend Cousins, reset the leadership and start developing a longer-term plan at the position as a part of a new-look, long-term plan for the rest of the team.