Kirk Cousins Is the Competitive in Rebuild
As the Minnesota Vikings looked to 2023, they hoped for an opportunity to capitalize on a 2022 season that saw them win 13 games and host a playoff matchup. Keeping Kirk Cousins under center was a must to maintain continuity. However, there is a ticking clock attached to the signal caller.
Kirk Cousins Is the Competitive in Rebuild
Entering 2023 in the final year of his contract, Kirk Cousins is the epitome of “competitive” in general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s coined “competitive rebuild” phrase. While the Minnesota Vikings look to usher in a new era of sustained success, they opt to do so while attempting to remain relevant every week.
That the 0-3 start for Kevin O’Connell’s club is frustrating directly reflects a desire for more from the fanbase. It was unrealistic to think this team would replicate the 13-win season they had a year ago, but still winning double-digit games would put Cousins and crew in position to make the postseason yet again.
Consistent trips to the postseason shouldn’t be expected as a logical outcome while rebuilding, but that’s also a hard pill to swallow. Cousins himself is not part of the rebuild, but he absolutely represents a desire to remain competitive along the way.
At this point, Cousins’ cap hit is not an exorbitant number in relation to quarterbacks across the league. However, as a lame-duck starter, he ultimately gives the Vikings a prime opportunity to find an heir on a rookie contract that can spread the wealth across the 53-man roster. The front office has infused the offense with pass-catching talent like Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson. Defensive additions have been less notable but are a work in progress. As the cap numbers shift, finding opportunities to spend on the lines and in the secondary should be the next course of action.
In looking to push money to other places, Minnesota’s desire to remain competitive can shift, and Cousins will become a byproduct of the latter parts of a rebuild. In identifying a new voice under center, the Vikings will have an opportunity to hit on pieces that raise the overall water level of the roster as a whole. They didn’t feel coming into the season was the right time to execute on that, and Cousins controls his destiny in season via trade, but following 2023 could represent a changing of the guard.
There is nothing wrong with Cousins as a quarterback. He is a good talent that has a well-established ceiling. He works with the talent around him but understandably holds back other roster parts. As soon as management deems it timely for the next step in this process, he will be jettisoned so focus can be placed on different parts of the picture.
If there’s a fear in this whole thing, it’s that a regime only gets one chance to make it right. Whoever Kevin O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah tab to be the next quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings has to be someone they hit on. A loaded quarterback draft gives them a significant amount of options, and a poor start to the year should put them in a strong position to make their pick. That player may not start Week 1 of 2024, but playing a good chunk of the time, they have to look like the next coming of a consistent starter.
No matter how the rest of the year plays out for the Vikings, the organization has stood by the notion of their process being an evolving competitive rebuild. Adofo-Mensah has worked on reworking things on the fly, and the penultimate decision will be when to move on from Cousins and shift those assets elsewhere. Maybe that doesn’t happen midseason, and suggesting a tank is underway will never come from within. Regardless, we were spoiled with competitive from the jump and now are being hit with rebuild as things go on.
Cousins has been everything he was asked to be when coming to the Vikings, and he has had plenty of strong years in Minnesota, but it will soon become time for a new stage in the process to get underway.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.