Russell Wilson’s Tricky Situation Should Be a Warning for Vikings

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, left, greets Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) before the coin toss prior to an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 37-30. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Nobody has been as controversial in the Vikings’ orbit as quarterback Kirk Cousins since the franchise was floated as a potential suitor for his services in free agency in 2018. Is he overpaid or just not good enough? Did the team fail him by not surrounding him with enough talent? Should they have moved on from him at some point in recent years?

Russell Wilson’s Tricky Situation Should Be a Warning for Vikings

Tricky Situation Should Be a Warning for Vikings
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All of those discussions are in the past, but it is certainly never a problem to employ a decent quarterback who can play at a borderline Pro Bowl level with 4,000 yards and 3o scores in any given year. However, it has not translated to team success, as the franchise seems to be stuck in playoff contention rather than competing for a Super Bowl.

Once again, the organization can move on from Cousins as he is scheduled to be a free agent in March. But should they? The passer is 35 years old and coming off a torn Achilles tendon that will put his availability for offseason workouts and training camp in jeopardy, although Aaron Rodgers is trying to change the timeline of those injuries.

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For that reason, the Vikings must plan for the future and find a successor in the upcoming draft. They should identify the player(s) they want and move to acquire that future franchise quarterback.

However, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t bring Cousins back for a year. Giving rookies time to develop can be helpful for their careers as they can grow without any pressure and take all the time they need without having to perform on Sundays.

The problem is a potential long-term deal. Signing Cousins for a year or two is an understandable move, but longer than that would set up the organization for an eventual disaster, and it just takes one look at Denver to realize that.

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Broncos’ GM George Paton traded for Russell Wilson in the 2022 offseason. A glorified move, but it hasn’t worked out as Wilson has regressed physically and is no longer that elite passer he once was. On Wednesday, the Broncos announced the benching of their star quarterback for backup Jarrett Stidham.

Moving on from Wilson is tricky as his contract handicaps the organization. Releasing him in the upcoming offseason would trigger $85 million in dead cap, a brutal blow to rebuild a roster but a necessary move if they want to move on from him.

Return to Familiar but Unkind
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He signed a five-year contract, and it came back to hurt the franchise. The decline of QBs is unpredictable. Tom Brady was still excellent in his 40s; others declined after turning 30. Cousins’ inevitable dropoff will occur at some point in the next few years, so throwing guaranteed money at him is a risky and potentially devastating decision.

He will be 36 in Week 1 of the upcoming season, coming off a ruptured Achilles. If he returns for a seventh season, it should be on a one-year deal or a contract without significant guaranteed money beyond that season to avoid a situation like Denver’s that might set their franchise back.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt