Cousins Walks.

Cousins in Comeback
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Many refused to believe it until it smacked them in the face on Monday afternoon.

Cousins Walks.

The Minnesota 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 Kirk Cousins joined the Atlanta Falcons on Monday, the competitive rebuild struck a grand crescendo.

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NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted, “The Falcons are signing Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract that includes a $50M signing bonus, per sources. Another monster payday for Cousins, who gets $100 guaranteed — $90M in 2024 and ’25, plus another $10M in 2026 — and a fresh start in Atlanta at age 35.”

So the Cousins era ends in Minnesota the way it began — slathered in money.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Cousins told reporters in January that money wasn’t the main motivation for his career’s next chapter. Yet, in the end, money was the main motivation, evidenced by Atlanta ending the bidding war.

The frenzied rumor mill connected Cousins to teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, and Las Vegas Raiders in the last two months, but no destination ever made quite as much sense as the Falcons. And the Falcons’ front office pulled the trigger. Atlanta has not reached the postseason since 2017, so acquiring a quarterback of Cousins’ caliber is a momentous event.

Listed as Contestant
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

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 ruined 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 Kyle Pitts, Bijan Robinson, and Drake London all day on Sundays — every Sunday. Some considered it a crime, mainly fantasy football managers, for Smith to blatantly ignore his playmakers.

Kirk Cousins
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On Cousins’ watch in Minnesota, the Vikings reached the playoffs twice in six years and won a single postseason game. He leaves the franchise ranked second in most passing touchdowns in Vikings history and third in passing yards.

All eyes pivot to the 2024 NFL Draft pertaining to Minnesota’s next steps at quarterback. Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Jayden Daniels (LSU), Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), and Bo Nix (Oregon) will likely get drafted before the end of Round 2, and Minnesota feels like a shoo-in to draft one of those rookies.

Cousins will turn 36 in August.

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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