3 Reasons Why Re-signing Kirk Cousins is Obvious Move for Vikings

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Regardless of how Week 18 turns out, the Minnesota Vikings are going to have a decision to make with impending free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins.

With a win over the Detroit Lions and a ton of help, Minnesota could still end up playing postseason football. It would be without Cousins, who suffered a torn Achilles in a game against the Green Bay Packers in late October.

Since Cousins went down, the likes of rookie Jaren Hall has joined veterans in Nick Mullens and Joshua Dobbs in starting games for Kevin O’Connell’s squad. Mullens gets the call once again in Week 18 with none of the three even looking QB2 capable at this stage in the season.

Related: Will Harrison Smith Return to the Minnesota Vikings next season?

Minnesota’s quarterback play since Cousins went down to injury has been a major point of contention in the Twin Cities. It’s also going to be a major topic when general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah meets with media after the Vikings’ season coming to a conclusion.

I am here to say that the Vikings should do everything possible to retain Cousins. There are a ton of different reasons for coming to this conclusion. Here is a look at three of them.

Kirk Cousins is a Darn Good Quarterback

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From 2018-22 with the Vikings, Cousins averaged nearly 4,200 passing yards with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Let’s put this into perspective for a second.

Only four quarterbacks this season have reached the 4,000-yard plateau around the NFL. Of those, Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott have compiled north of 30 touchdowns. Cousins’ QB rating during this span stood at 100.9. Only four regular starters this season have hit that plateau.

When looking at what Cousins was doing prior to going down to injury this season, he was on pace to put up the best numbers among quarterbacks in the NFL.

Over the course of a 17-game season, this would have equated to nearly 5,000 passing yards with 38 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. We’re talking about leading the league in both passing yards and passing touchdowns.

As Vikings fans are more than aware of, QB stats are not the end all. Cousins has had his struggles against winning teams, in prime-time games and leading Minnesota to sustained team-wide success (one playoff win).

But a quarterback doesn’t put up numbers like this without being actually good at his job. Sustained success in that regard magnifies things further.

Related: Minnesota Vikings NFL Playoff Odds Heading into Week 18

Kirk Cousins as a Minnesota Vikings Leader

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There are a few different things to look at here. We can check in on Cousins leading the SKOL chant ahead of last week’s game while going completely shirtless. We can point to Vikings players who have come out in support of him, including generational star wide receiver Justin Jefferson.

“I mean, I feel like I’m always voicing my opinion on Kirk. I mean, as much as people, you know, downgrade him and, you know, not want to give him his credit, I’m always the person that gives him his credit,” Jefferson said of Cousins back in late-December.

“And I’m always, you know, blessed and just accepting of the person that he was for me, the player that he was for me in this team, just by being that leader and being that captain, controlling the game, controlling where the ball goes and making great throws, you know, I think the rest of the world definitely realizes that at this very moment.”

Outside of the fact that Jefferson is going to be looking for his own record-breaking contract extension this offseason, his opinion should matter to Adofo-Mensah and Co. He’s the face of the Vikings franchise. Fans in Minnesota hope this is the case for the next decade-plus. Keep him happy.

Another aspect to look at here is Cousins’ ability to excel as a team leader with Minnesota’s cast of weapons. He has yet to play a full season with stud rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison or star tight end T.J. Hockenson.

There should be something to be said about maintaining continuity on offense. Bring Cousins back, add an upgrade at running back and see what he can do with this elite trio of skill-position players. Boom! You might have a top-flight offense of an ilk similar to the 49ers and Miami Dolphins.

Related: Minnesota Vikings 2024 NFL Mock Draft Roundup

What Are the Better Options for the Minnesota Vikings?

Assuming Minnesota’s brass comes to the conclusion that the current group of healthy Vikings quarterbacks are not the answer, the team would then have to look outside of the organization for an upgrade.

Let’s not even look at the 2024 NFL Draft when it comes to this position as an immediate upgrade for Minnesota. It is currently slated to select 12th overall. None of the top-flight signal callers in the annual event will be available to the Vikings. Even if they went with someone like Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. or Bo Nix from Oregon, having the youngster sit behind Cousins for a couple seasons makes sense.

Of the veterans potentially available, who really stands out to you in NFL Free agency?

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  • Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Jacoby Brissett, Washington Commanders
  • Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
  • Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints
  • Tyrod Taylor, New York Giants

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

The trade market is a tad more interesting in that some starter-caliber and potential long-term options could become available. That includes Zach Wilson (New York Jets), Mac Jones (New England Patriots), Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos), Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals) and Justin Fields (Chicago Bears).

Of that group, only Wilson stands out as a player who has had the same sustained success as Cousins. He’d also come cheap, adding to the intrigue of bringing in the Super Bowl-winning signal caller. That’s magnified with the Vikings taking a $28 million dead cap hit should Cousins not be on their roster once the new league year starts in March.

Wilson’s off-set pay with the Broncos once they release him could have Minnesota being able to acquire the veteran on a minimum deal.

Related: Russell Wilson as the Next Minnesota Vikings QB?

The other Wilson and Jones have proven to be busts. The jury is out on Fields. But it’s hard to imagine the division-rival Bears trading him to Minnesota. Kyler Murray is certainly an intriguing option. Though, Arizona’s brass might be content with keeping him.

All of this equates to the logical conclusion that Minnesota should do what it can to retain Cousins on a shorter-term contract. It can then potentially look at the NFL Draft for an heir-apparent.

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