How Will Vikings Fans Remember the Kirk Cousins Era?

Kirk Cousins Riddle
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Entering what is almost certainly the last year of his tenure in Minnesota, Kirk Cousins will have played the same amount of seasons with the Vikings as he did in Washington. His time here has not been without scrutiny, but as the franchise looks to the future, how will he be looked back upon?

For years, the greatest bugaboo for fans regarding Kirk Cousins is that he has been paid like a Top 12 quarterback while being closer to just above average. That should have always been expected, given he was signed as a premier free agent option, but the landscape of value across the NFL is often misguided. I don’t think you’d find any argument to suggest that Cousins compares at the level he is being paid, but when teams need a premiere signal caller and go to the open market, this situation is the result.

How Will Vikings Fans Remember the Kirk Cousins Era?

On the field, Cousins has given the Vikings a level of consistency they haven’t had since Fran Tarkenton. Brett Favre provided a high level of play in a very brief tenure at the end of his career. Christian Ponder was a flop, Teddy Bridgewater was injured, and so too was Sam Bradford. Really, Minnesota may not have matched Cousins’ level of production and consistency for decades. Daunte Culpepper is often credited with strong seasons teaming up with elite wideouts, but his numbers also fall substantially short of Kirk’s.

Vikings Fans Remember
Kirk Cousins at the NFL’s 2023 Honors Ceremony, where his play with Justin Jefferson took home ‘Best Moment.’

Cousins has thrown at least 30 touchdowns in three of his five seasons with the Vikings and missed doing it last year by just a single score. He has done well in limiting turnovers and has been what you could expect from the get-go. He is not a guy that will put you over the top in a big game, and while he did rise to the occasion during some moments, the roster limitations due to his cap hit have often shown through when the Vikings found themselves coming up empty.

It’s hard to fault a player for maximizing their value, and Cousins has executed on that at every opportunity. He signed a lucrative deal out of the gate and has done well with extensions to kick the can down the road. Cousins will likely find no issue grabbing another payday elsewhere, and for a guy that will be 35 years old when moving to his third team, a level of pride has to be placed on availability and durability over his career.

Vikings Fans Have Majority
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Cousins presents a tough case when it comes to praising the organization for keeping him. He’s limited the ability to build around the roster, ultimately leaving Minnesota twisting in the wind during the playoffs. That’s not a fault of Cousins by any means, and it doesn’t take away from the production he has generated on the field. He won’t ever be celebrated as a franchise great because of it, and had there been the ability to surround him with more talent, Minnesota may have been able to win just a bit more while he was here.

Did Kirk Cousins Take
Minnesota Vikings QB1 Kirk Cousins versus the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 9th, 2022. Also pictured: Tight End Irv Smith and Left Tackle Christian Darrisaw. The Vikings defeated the Bears 29-22.

Maybe Vikings fans will reminisce on this level of consistency after he’s gone. Truthfully, there is never any telling how a new or young signal caller will do. Right now, though, it’s become clear both sides can benefit from a change in 2024, and then it will be about what was and picking up the pieces to move forward.

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.