Kirk Cousins’ Departure Shouldn’t Impact Justin Jefferson

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Week 1 of 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium versus the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings won 23-1 to kickoff the Kevin O'Connell Era in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Vikings watched Kirk Cousins do as he does and chase the bag. They are now left to pick up the pieces at the quarterback position, but that does have a trickle-down effect on Justin Jefferson. Why should he care about the departure, though?

Kirk Cousins’ Departure Shouldn’t Impact Justin Jefferson

Justin Jefferson’s goal has been to land a warranted payday this offseason. He will get a contract larger than anything we have seen from a position player who is not under center. As the top wide receiver in the NFL, and with numbers like the ones he has put up in the past handful of seasons, none of that is unwarranted. Coming off a rookie deal, it’s time for him to get his.

kirk cousins
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

During his time in Minnesota, he has caught passes from Cousins. He has also developed on his own and helped to make his quarterback look substantially better. With Kevin O’Connell as his head coach, he nearly put up the best wide receiver statistical season we have seen in NFL history, and that is more a reflection of his talent than it is the player throwing him the football.

Last season, we got proof of that. While Cousins needed to operate for a time without Jefferson, the wideout was forced to produce down the stretch with the likes of Josh Dobbs, Nick Mullens, and Jaren Hall. None of them have any business working as starting quarterbacks in the NFL at this stage of their careers, and yet Jefferson put them in position to win games and get him the ball.

Playing only five games with Cousins under center last year, Jefferson still turned in a 1,000-yard season with just ten games to accomplish that feat. He recorded over 500 yards with the lackluster trio throwing him passes, and he put up two games well north of 100 yards. While Cousins’ talent is notable, it’s Jefferson who unquestionably brings more to the table.

Have Pretty Simple
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

We also saw evidence of a talented wide receiver experiencing a different passer two years ago in the form of Tyreek Hill. Going from the game’s best quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, to Tua Tagovailoa, is definitely a downgrade. That’s not a Dobbs, Mullens, or Hall-like fall, but Hill experienced the step backward. His production saw new heights, though, and the talent he possessed still reigned supreme.

That’s now the goal for Minnesota. They aren’t looking to employ a quarterback from the doldrums as they were forced to do a season ago. They really shouldn’t even be looking to land a bridge quarterback, but whoever is brought in will have the opportunity to work with Jefferson. That passer gets to throw footballs to Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, and Ty Chandler. It’s almost guaranteed that’s a better situation than they would have been in previously, rookie or not.’

Reaffirms Stance
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will need to speak into the situation and get the signal caller right, and then O’Connell will pair with Josh McCown to get the most out of them. Jefferson will produce either way and how much in sync he can get with his new passer will determine how high the duo can fly.

The departure of Cousins isn’t something that Jefferson needs to worry about, especially not if the next guy is someone he can feel comfortable with.

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.