Kirk Cousins Has to Be Back for Vikings
When Kirk Cousins went down against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, the overshadowing feeling was one of heartbreak. Sure, you could dread that the Minnesota Vikings now faced a very new reality at quarterback, but you couldn’t escape the heartbreak for Cousins himself. Now absorbing it more, it seems the only answer is to bring Cousins back.
Kirk Cousins Has to Be Back for Vikings
In the aftermath of the injury, the only feeling I could muster was sadness. Cousins wasn’t supposed to have his tenure with Minnesota end like this. Now, having dissected things a bit more, the only outcome that seems straightforward is to bring Cousins back.
The problem with employing Cousins has never had anything to do with his ability level. The issue has always been his cap hit in a sport with only so much money to go around. He’s a very good quarterback who doesn’t quite tip the scales enough to be credited for doing it all alone. Knowing you need either the Patrick Mahomes type and be willing to pay for it or that you must hit on a perfect rookie with the small deal, Cousins lands somewhere in between.
That said, Cousins has lasted long enough in Minnesota that his deal no longer ranked at the league’s top. What he is being paid is a nominal amount for a quarterback of his quality, and finding anyone to replace him in free agency will be both costly and likely fruitless. The Vikings could go the route of drafting the replacement, but they won’t pick high enough to have their uninterrupted choice, and whomever they go with likely comes with a learning curve.
Then there’s the injury.
Cousins returning from his Achilles tear means that his market may look a bit different. The Vikings will have valuable insight as to how the rehab process has gone, and bringing him back would lend itself towards almost no acclimation process. At 35 years old, Cousins is not young, but he should have plenty of good football ahead of him and has always displayed a heightened level of durability.
What once seemed only plausible in a one-year extension now may be worthy of orchestrating a multi-year deal to pair Cousins with the expected window. If you’re rebuilding competitively, having a quarterback to keep you in games is necessary. Cousins must know that his star wideout, Justin Jefferson, needs to be paid, and so does his bookend Christian Darrisaw. If he can stomach a bit of depression on the dollars, then do right and give him what it takes while leaving yourself wiggle room.
The 2023 Minnesota Vikings are not a perfect team by any means, but the development and coaching have allowed younger players to contribute at a higher level. Without having substantial dollars committed across the board, there is less of a need to go out and pay for every option under the sun.
In Minnesota, Cousins has elite pass-catching options, a line that protects him, and a defense that has turned a bad narrative on its head. Finding that elsewhere, especially if he asks for the moon from a contract, will be unlikely. Being able to continue producing with players he has grown comfortable with is something he may gravitate towards, and it’s clear there is a mutual respect for and from him within the locker room.
Drafting a quarterback can still happen unless, of course, Jaren Hall balls out. Finding a succession plan always has to be part of the equation. For 2024, though, the answer needs to be Cousins, and he should probably have the first crack in 2025 as well. Don’t let the story end as it did, and orchestrate a way to keep continuity going forward.
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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.