Discoveries – Give Kirk Cousins a One-Year Extension to 2023
cousins – The Vikings and new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah decided on Kirk Cousins, extending the veteran quarterback to one year and $35 million on Sunday night. The fully guaranteed deal cuts Cousins’ 2022 salary cap by nearly $14 million and keeps him in Minnesota for the next two seasons (with a no-trade clause).
It is an intriguing first step from Adofo-Mensah for several reasons. Let’s dive into five takeaways from the Vikings’ decision to extend Cousins until 2023.
The Vikings don’t rebuild
As late as Sunday morning, the question was whether the Vikings would screw up their roster or reload and try to compete this year. The Cousins expansion clarifies that the Wilfs were serious when they said they had no intention of participating in a rebuild. Whether or not that’s the right decision is a separate discussion, which I’ll get into a bit, but at least we know what Minnesota’s approach is.
There will be no Year 0 excuses for Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell in 2022. With Cousins extended, the Vikings signal they plan to fight for a title division and have a playoff this season. So the pressure is now on Adofo-Mensah to build Cousins - and on O’Connell to get the most out of Cousins through his attacking and training schedule.
“Kirk was 1 of the first players I named when I joined the Vikings, and it was instantly clear how much he cared about this group and winning,” Adofo-Mensah said.
“High-level quarterback play is a prerequisite for building a championship team, and we are confident that Kirk will continue to do so.”
Cousins is a leading of the financial side of the NFL.
Arguably, no player in current NFL history has achieved more success than Cousins when it comes to the business side of the league compared to what they have performed on the field. He went from fourth-round élite to starter in Washington, validation franchise tags in 2016 and 2017 before landing a fully guaranteed $84 million free-agent contract with the Vikings in 2018. The Cousins then signed big-ticket renewals in 2020 and again in 2022.
Cousins has now guaranteed deals for eight consecutive seasons from 2016 to 2023. He has earned over $230 million in his career, including this latest deal. And he’s done it all by being an accurate .500 starter, playing three total playoff games (winning one), and is widely regarded as a slightly above average quarterback who struggles to improve the surrounding team.
Regardless of what you think of Cousins as the quarterback, you have to give him and his agent credit for how they maximized their earnings.
The Vikings’ offense could become elite this season
The reason for giving Cousins this expansion has to do with O’Connell. The new Vikings head coach believes he can take Cousins’ game to a new level by building an offense that maximizes his strengths. He just helped veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford break through and win a Super Bowl; Now, he will try to do the same with the cousins. Having a much better relationship than Cousins and Mike Zimmer can only benefit everyone involved.
If O’Connell, who knows the cousins well from their time in Washington in 2017, and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips can bring what they learned from Sean McVay to Minnesota, the Vikings offense has a chance. Adam Thielen, Irv Smith Jr., K.J. Osborn, CJ Ham, and Some Young Depth. Bookend blocks are set with Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill. Ezra Cleveland is the only starter suspended inside the offensive line, but the Vikings will have some options, both inside and outside, to improve at the center and right-wing.
So the list is there, waiting for updates in C and RG for O’Connell to build something efficient and explosive. Raising Cousins’ play-action attempt rate seems like a logical step after that number fell from 31% in 2019 to 26% last season. Re-executing and scripting efficiently would be a massive boost without relying too heavily on one. Next, O’Connell will look to build a diverse and unpredictable offense, putting Cousins and his playmakers in the best situations to thrive.
If all goes well, this might be a top-five offense. If Adofo-Mensah and defensive director Ed Donatell can get the defense to be at least average by 2022 or 2023, this might be a team with a chance of being pretty good. It was undoubtedly part of the thought process behind the decision to keep Cousins.
Knee-Jerk Reaction: It Looks Like A Mistake
In the last section, I explained why this extension of prime numbers might work. Now is the time for my personal opinion: this looks like a bug.
It’s hard to resist the feeling that the Vikings have locked themselves into two more years of mediocrity by signing Cousins as the quarterback. No, quarterbacks aren’t the only factor in wins and losses, but he’s a guy with a 59-59-2 best as a starter and a 33-29-1 record after my joining. a Vikings team that was one game away. a Super Bowl before he arrived. Under Cousins, they made the playoffs every four years. Finally, excuses regarding training or defensive or offensive play are equally essential, and blame Cousins.
Part of the problem is Cousins’ shortcomings as a player. He’s a talented, high-precision quarterback, but several things about his game keep him from getting closer to the elite level. Cousins is a tremendous first-read QB, struggling to make things work out of bounds and sometimes keeping the ball in the pocket too long. It automatically checks your progress and throws where the defense dictates, sometimes only to miss. Cousins’ main flaw is that his goal of limiting errors can cause him to play too conservatively, either overlooking the sticks on third down or not giving Jefferson enough chances in tight coverage. As a result, he doesn’t bring out the team around him as elite quarterbacks do. Instead, he needs all the pieces around him to lift him.
cousins turns 34
Cousins turns 34 in August. He is who he is. I find it hard to believe the idea of O’Connell unlocking his game when everyone from McVay to Kevin Stefanski to Gary Kubiak couldn’t.
Still, Cousins is a solid, above-average NFL quarterback who puts up good numbers and is ranked at his position in the 10-15 range by most analysts. The more significant issue is the chance cost of continuing to pay him big bucks when you know he’s not a top QB. If you don’t have an elite QB, the best thing to do is get a cheap one that gives you financial flexibility. Nor did the Vikings. In 2018, Cousins’ contract played a role in declining Minnesota’s defensive personnel due to salary cap restrictions. The move puts a lot of burden on Adofo-Mensah to get draft picks at an extremely high rate to build a championship-caliber roster for Cousins’ salary.
Going up against Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell as Viking makers seemed like an opportunity for a complete refit, trying something new and finding the future quarterback. Instead, they run Cousins, who will take 15% of their cap this year and 16% next year.
One has to wonder what influence the Wilfs had on this decision. It looks like a move led by owners fearful of falling into quarterback purgatory or having a 4-13 season, even if it means avoiding the potential upside of signing an elite player to clinch the top spot. In-game. Time will tell, and I might be wrong, but this step feels like a mistake.
Review Discoveries – Give Kirk Cousins a One-Year Extension to 2023.