Have an opinion on Kirk Cousins?
Congratulations. You’re right.
Thursday, Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million, fully-guaranteed contract with the Vikings, becoming the target of Minnesotans’ consternation, elation, ambivalence and confusion. Each emotion is justified.
Absolutely. Cousins will make $84 million over three years. Aaron Rodgers will make about $20 million this year. This is unjust. This is also how free agency works. If Jerick “Private Jet” McKinnon is worth $30 million, then a 29-year-old quarterback who has thrown for 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons is worth … about $84 million.
Cousins isn’t a winner?
Technically true. He has never won a playoff game. But he played well in his only playoff start, and played well the last time he faced the Eagles team that blew out the Vikings in last season’s NFC Championship Game.
Just because quarterbacks are important doesn’t mean they are independent. Cousins was highly productive while playing for a poorly-run franchise and throwing to a spotty group of receivers.
Washington hasn’t played in a conference title game since two weeks before the other Minneapolis Super Bowl, in 1992. That is not a franchise that puts its players in ideal situations.
Cousins hasn’t passed the eye test?
We watched him play well in the Big Ten for Michigan State without dazzling scouts, then watched him fail to persuade Washington to sign him to a long-term deal. He never seemed destined for stardom before signing a deal that will require him to play like a star.
Cousins, though, is better than the aged version of Peyton Manning that won a Super Bowl with the Broncos following the 2015 season. He has a better résumé than Nick Foles, who just won a Super Bowl, and Case Keenum, whose career was far less impressive than Cousins’ as of last summer. Statistically, he compares favorably to recent Super Bowl winners Joe Flacco and Eli Manning.
The goal is to win a Super Bowl, not to prepare Cousins to take over Manning’s endorsements.
Cousins can’t compare to Brett Favre?
True. Favre never passed for 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
Cousins has never thrown more than 13 interceptions in a season. Favre threw fewer than 13 interceptions in a full season only once — in 2009 with the Vikings, when he threw seven.
Maybe it’s silly to compare Cousins with a Hall of Famer, but if you were looking at stats and not names, you could argue that Cousins, at this juncture of his career, compares with the likes of Favre, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.
Cousins fits the Vikings?
He should. They have quality skill position players, an excellent defense and play indoors.
Cousins has been playing his home games in spotty weather on a notoriously bad patch of turf.
In 2017, Keenum had a passer rating of 105.1 in indoor games and 88.7 in outdoor games. Cousins might not be required to be as prolific as he was in Washington, but he should be even more efficient while playing a majority of his games under a roof.
The Vikings have been searching for a franchise quarterback since Fran Tarkenton retired. No Vikings quarterback since Daunte Culpepper has given them three consecutive, healthy, prolific seasons.
Cousins is coming off three consecutive, healthy, prolific seasons at the age of 29.
“When they get to this age is when they really hit it,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said.
There isn’t overwhelming evidence to support a sea change for quarterbacks at the age of 30, but when you just spent $84 million, you’re going to paint the prettiest possible picture.
With Cousins signed, the Vikings won’t have to waste a first-round draft pick on someone such as Christian Ponder and won’t wind up settling for someone far less accomplished than Cousins in free agency.
Spending $84 million on a quarterback who has never won a playoff game might not have made much sense for a lot of franchises. Considering the Vikings’ history at the position, Cousins — even at this price — is worth a try.