NFL free agency kicks off March 18, but you have to wonder why we aren’t hearing anything about the future of Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins even though we are now more than a month past the Super Bowl.
Cousins has a year left on his deal, but there is no question that the club has to be considering all options when it comes to their signal caller.
This might seem crazy, but would the Vikings drop Cousins when his contract expires and go with former Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from New Orleans, who would have a much smaller price tag?
With the news that Drew Brees is going to return to the Saints, the fact is that Bridgewater, who is an unrestricted free agent, could be available.
Still the stats seem to indicate that there’s no way the Vikings will let Cousins go, even after his gigantic three-year, $84 million deal is up.
In the two seasons that Cousins has been in Minnesota, he ranks sixth in the NFL in passer rating at 103.0 — trailing only Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Jackson.
His completion percentage of 69.71 is second in the league over the past two seasons behind only Brees.
And his 56 touchdown passes trail only Mahomes, Wilson, Matt Ryan and Brees.
The fact is that Cousins has earned the contract the Vikings gave him.
But can they afford to pay him that kind of money going forward?
Looking to the 2021 season, as their salary cap currently stands, the Vikings have no way to afford Cousins if he’s going to earn $31 million like he will this season.
They already owe $161 million to just 31 players, and they need to fill out a 53 man roster.
If they were to pay Cousins $31 million in 2021, their salary cap would be at $192 million with 21 players left to sign.
Bridgewater can play
Bridgewater, of course, has never really gotten a shot as a starter since he suffered that devastating knee injury with the Vikings right before the 2016 season.
In two seasons in New Orleans he has played in 14 games and started six.
Last year in five starts, Bridgewater threw for 1,205 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 69.7% of his passes for a 103.7 passer rating. The Saints went 5-0 in those games — including wins over Dallas and Seattle.
A big reason why many believe Cousins will get a contract extension from the Vikings is that the 2021 free agent quarterback class — which Cousins would be a part of — is so thin. The biggest names on the list are Cousins, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton.
So there’s a good chance Cousins would get a big offer from elsewhere.
The only question is, how can the Vikings afford to keep paying him this kind of money?
Thielen and Johnson
One of the great stories out of the NFL scouting combine is the fact that former Gophers star receiver Tyler Johnson has been receiving a lot of help and advice from Vikings star Adam Thielen. Johnson has been training at Thielen’s ETS Performance Gym in Lakeville.
Johnson, who didn’t do testing at the combine but will instead do that at his Gophers Pro Day on March 25, said at his media sessions in Indianapolis that he has received some great advice from Thielen.
“I was able to work out with him when I got back to Minnesota for the past few days. He just told me to be me,” Johnson said. “That was important to me, important to him and he felt it was best for me.”
When it came to Johnson’s decision to not work out at the combine, he said it was about putting himself in the best position possible going into the draft.
“It was pretty difficult because it’s a prime-time event, and I love to compete. To showcase my talent on prime-time television is something I’d love to do,” Johnson said. “But being able to make the best decision for me was most important, March 25 is when I’ll be comfortable.”
Yes, the fact is that Thielen never got to go to the NFL combine or have many scouts take a look at him, as he went undrafted out of MSU Mankato before signing with the Vikings on a rookie free agent deal.
Johnson won’t have that trouble.
Pro Football Focus has the Gophers standout rated as the 47th-best player in the draft and 11th-best prospect at wide receiver.
Diggs vs. Diggs
Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs might get a chance to line up next season against his brother Trevon, who is ranked as the 27th-best prospect in the NFL draft as a cornerback out of Alabama, according to PFF.
An article in USA Today talked about the tremendous bond the two players have for each other as they helped each other after the death of their father, Aron Diggs, who died at age 39 from heart failure.
“That’s like my dad, honestly,” Trevon said of Stefon. “He was there for me when my father passed, so, he’s always taking care of me. I always ask him everything — 2 o’clock in the morning, I’m asking him questions.”
While Stefon Diggs was a fourth-round draft pick out of Maryland, who had to prove himself throughout his playing career after dealing with injuries, his brother figures to be a first-round pick in the draft.
Diggs posted 37 tackles, eight pass deflections and three interceptions last year for the Crimson Tide — including an interception he returned 79 yards for a touchdown.
He said when he joined Alabama he knew he was going to have to earn every minute of playing time.
“I came in with a mind-set,” Trevon said. “My brother told me, ‘You’re going all the way to Alabama, so you’re going to have to compete.’ That’s what I did. I was always looking for a way to get into the field whether it was offense, defense or special teams. Whatever I have to do, I’m going to learn, I’m going to do it.”
When asked about the possibility of one day facing Stefon in an NFL game, Trevon said, “I feel like it’ll be easier. The younger brother is always better than the big brother.”
In an interesting note, ESPN draft expert Todd McShay ran a post-combine mock draft and had the Vikings taking Trevon at No. 25 overall.
Why would the Vikings want Diggs?
“Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and Marcus Sherels are all free agents, and 29-year-old Xavier Rhodes struggled all season,” McShay wrote.