Sports Illustrated’s Peter King had an interesting piece this week taking a look back at the courting and eventual signing by the Vikings of free agent QB Kirk Cousins.
There was nothing that one would consider earth-shattering in the process, which was told after an extensive interview with Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent. But here are five things that caught my eye from the piece:
1. Cousins and McCartney set out with an interesting free agency strategy, telling all teams who were interested to make their best offer in what was essentially a silent auction-style bidding process. Wrote King: One offer per team. That would be it. Then a visit or two to a team (Cousins said he wanted to meet the coaches he’d be working with before signing anything); then a decision. “Kirk was not going to sign before he met the coaches and got a feel for the culture,” McCartney said.
2. Three teams made offers: the Vikings, Jets and Cardinals. A fourth team expected to enter the fray, though, did not. Instead, the Broncos committed early to Case Keenum and decided that paying him roughly $10 million per year less than Cousins was their preferred strategy. Wrote King: The Broncos knew near the start of the legal tampering period they could get Keenum. Ten hours into the period, Denver had reached agreement with Keenum on a two-year, $36 million guaranteed deal.
3. The Jets seemed to be the fiercest competitor for Cousins’ services, which is why it was essential that the Vikings — who had the first visit with Cousins — locked things up. New York wanted assurance that Cousins would visit, and McCartney did not oblige. King quotes McCartney saying, “They were clearly frustrated. They wanted to be guaranteed a visit. I told them I couldn’t guarantee a visit, that if he goes to Minnesota and loves it, he could sign. They were not happy about that.”
4. As part of Cousins’ visit, his parents also came to town to help take care of Cousins’ infant son, Cooper. The Vikings pulled off a nice touch there, per King: The Vikings had left two Cousins jerseys –Vikings purple, number 8, with COUSINS on the back — in the parents’ hotel room, one for dad and one for mom.
5. While some Vikings fans started panicking when Trevor Siemian was added via trade before Cousins signed — thinking in some way that it meant Cousins wasn’t going to sign — it was actually a key to the deal. Per King: During the negotiations, McCartney had stressed to the Vikings how important a helpful backup quarterback would be to Cousins. What a coincidence — McCartney represents Siemian. Late Wednesday, Siemian was officially a Viking.