Kirk Cousins Takes a Bit of an L in Atlanta

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Everything will be completely different for Kirk Cousins in 2024 — including his jersey number.

Kirk Cousins Takes a Bit of an L in Atlanta

The soon-to-be 36-year-old passer signed with the Atlanta Falcons last week for four years and $180 million, a new start for the man who spent six seasons as the Minnesota Vikings QB1. And when Cousins takes the field in September, he’ll be wearing the No. 18 — also known as Justin Jefferson’s number — evidently unable to hang onto his customary No. 8.

Kirk Cousins
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NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero called it “the rare negotiation Kirk Cousins didn’t win.”

Thankfully, his jersey number doesn’t mean much of anything performance-wise, so he’ll let his play on the field do the talking. Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts will retain the No. 8, his number for the last three seasons. When news broke of Cousins’ signing one week ago, most believed he’d be able to buy the jersey number from Pitts or come to some arrangement, but Cousins took a rare loss per his apparel.

Cousins said about the meaning of No. 8 last week and his dialogue with Pitts, “If it’s a number you want to pivot from, great, you let me know. I’ve obviously worn No. 8 since high school. If it’s a number you want to keep, that’s fine, no problem. I just want to be a good teammate.”

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In response — the price for No. 8 — Pitts said that he just wanted targets every game. Whatever the case, the two didn’t make a deal.

On Cousins’ departure, the Vikings’ roster has undergone dramatic overhaul since general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took over 14 months ago, but many Vikings fans loved to say out loud, “The Vikings keep running it back.” But after Cousins joined the Atlanta Falcons last Monday, the competitive rebuild struck a grand crescendo. As of March 18th, just 11 of the 63 players on Minnesota’s roster are left over since general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell took over early in 2022. It’s a new beginning in Minnesota.

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New Falcons head coach Raheem Morris was the Washington Commanders’ defensive backs coach from 2012 to 2014, also known as Cousins’ first three seasons in the NFL. The two were coworkers in the nation’s capital. Atlanta’s 2023 campaign was ravaged by poor quarterback performance, causing the dismissal of head coach Arthur Smith and sending the Falcons to Cousins’ doorstep for a new QB1. Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke didn’t get the job done in Smith’s last hurrah. Cousins joins a coach he knows and an offense ready to be unlocked.

Put simply, Cousins will feed the jersey culprit Pitts, Bijan Robinson, and Drake London all day on Sundays — every Sunday. Some considered it a crime, specifically fantasy football managers, for Smith to blatantly ignore his playmakers.

Offers Surprising Blueprint
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The Vikings reached the playoffs twice in six years with Cousins as QB1 and won a single postseason game. He left the franchise ranked second in most passing touchdowns in Vikings history and third in passing yards.

Atlanta, on the other hand, hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2017. We shall see if Cousins can help change the Falcons’ fortune with the No. 18.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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