Kirk Cousins: Not Like This
The Minnesota Vikings were looking for a third straight win on Sunday afternoon, and getting that against the rival Green Bay Packers would be a great feeling. Despite getting it done, the feelings are anything but great as Kirk Cousins saw his season end.
Kirk Cousins: Not Like This
Despite a 13-win season a year ago, this Vikings team looks better constructed and has the ability to play at a very high level. Jordan Addison has stepped up in the absence of Justin Jefferson, and Brian Flores has Minnesota’s defense playing at an otherwise inexperienced level. That coincides with Kirk Cousins playing arguably the best season of his career.
Unfortunately, the leader of that saw a worst-case scenario play out on Sunday. Cousins dropped back for a 4th quarter pass and, upon planting his foot, experienced a pop in his heel that ultimately will be revealed as an Achilles tendon tear. Similar to former Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Cousins will see a recovery arc that traditionally is nearly a year before back to full strength.
With the Vikings, that certainly could mean we have seen the last of Cousins in purple.
When Minnesota got off to an ugly start, there was talk around the league regarding the availability of Cousins. Despite having a no-trade clause, it was a talking point about whether he would want to go somewhere else and win. In the final year of his contract, maybe Cousins could join another organization and elevate them to a deep postseason run.
Minnesota started winning and punctuated that with a victory on Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers. The victory over Green Bay brought them back to .500, and the schedule ahead is light, to say the least. The reality is that even if Cousins had waived his no-trade clause, and he wasn’t going to, Minnesota wasn’t moving him.
Kevin O’Connell’s squad was now all of a sudden trending towards a postseason reality, and adding around their highly compensated quarterback seemed to be a must. The Detroit Lions had shown cracks, and it would be on the Vikings to track them down. Now, they’ll need to do that without the star veteran.
Ultimately, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah had to know what 2024 would look like. Maybe that meant Cousins being extended on another one-year deal, or perhaps that meant allowing him to go elsewhere, but Sunday’s injury all but dictated that decision for him. Not only is Cousins done for the 2023 season, but he’s likely out into the early part of 2024 as well.
The Vikings can’t afford to have quarterback uncertainty going into next season, and already thinking about drafting a future answer, Cousins returning seems like a long shot. For his tenure in Minnesota to end on an unceremonious fluke injury is heartbreaking.
Cousins, his wife Julie, and their family have given everything to Minnesota. Coming to the Vikings from a terribly run Washington franchise, Cousins embodied the desire to be a leader and orchestrate something special. At times, he came up short, but this season marked the same amount of time he spent in Washington’s organization. He acclimated to the state and continually showed a high level of durability, giving everything to this franchise.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way.
How the Vikings pick up the pieces from here remains to be seen. Jaren Hall is the only rostered option at this point, and the rookie could be the option the rest of the way. For now, though, thinking about such an unfortunate happening being the last down Cousins plays with the Vikings, is beyond tragic. Maybe this will rally the team forward in 2023, but it will be hard to see them do it without number “8” under center.
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.