Moller: Kirk Cousins’ new contract is ridiculous
Nate Moller | Monday, March 23, 2020
On March 16, it was announced that the Minnesota Vikings had agreed to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a two-year extension that will pay him $66 million over those two years. Cousins, who has played two seasons for the Vikings, still has one year remaining on his previous contract worth $84 million over three years.
I’ve been a Vikings fan since I could walk, and this is not the first time I have been disappointed with the organization’s decision on quarterbacks. I vividly remember the Vikings incomprehensibly using the 12th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft on Christian Ponder, signing Donovon McNabb when he was way past his prime, and giving up on Teddy Bridgewater after his gruesome ACL tear. If you asked my dad or grandpa, they could talk about the Vikings’ quarterback woes for hours. When I read the news last week, I couldn’t help but chuckle because I knew the Vikings had yet again made a poor quarterback decision.
When the Vikings signed Cousins back in 2018, they signed him with one goal in mind: to win the Super Bowl (something that the Vikings have yet to do in their history). Obviously that goal was not accomplished during Cousins’ first two seasons in purple.
In Cousins’ first season in 2018-2019, the Vikings finished with a record of 8-7-1, which was very disappointing considering the Vikings had made the NFC Championship the previous year behind former backup quarterback turned starter Case Keenum. While Cousins can not be blamed entirely for the poor outcome of that season, he definitely played a part in it. In that season, Cousins was sacked an astounding 40 times and threw 10 interceptions. Cousins also failed to beat the division-leading Bears on two occasions, ultimately faltering in Week 17 with a playoff berth on the line.
Fast forward to the 2019-2020 season. Despite starting the season at 2-2, the Vikings were able to hit their stride in the middle of the season, and they were ultimately able to finish the season with a record of 10-6 and receive the second Wild Card in the NFC Playoffs. Despite the solid record, Cousins received a lot of criticism throughout the season for not being able to win a big game. I think this criticism was justified, as the Vikings lost to the Chiefs and Seahawks and dropped two games against the NFC North champion Packers. In fact, the only victory the Vikings recorded against a team with a winning record during the regular season was against the Eagles.
Cousins was able to silence the doubters momentarily after he led the Vikings to a stunning victory over Drew Brees and the Saints on the road in the NFC Wild Card Round. I acknowledge that Cousins did play very well in that game and his throw to wide receiver Adam Thielen to set up the game-winning touchdown was very clutch. In my opinion, however, Cousins needs to prove he can perform at that level on a consistent basis in primetime games to earn the amount of money he is making. Cousins did not show that consistency in the NFC Divisional Round the following week against the 49ers. The Vikings were blown out 27-10, and Cousins was sacked six times and failed to convert on deep passing plays.
While I don’t think the Vikings are completely at fault for signing Cousins to an extension, I don’t see why they needed to tack on an extra $5 million per year compared to his old contract. Although Cousins won one huge game against the Saints last year and made one huge throw, he has failed to prove himself in other huge games for the Vikings. In fact, Cousins has been horrible against the Bears and Packers — the top two division rivals for the Vikings. In his two seasons in purple, he is 0-3 against the Bears and 1-2-1 against the Packers. If the Vikings are paying Cousins to win a Super Bowl, shouldn’t they expect to be the best team in their division at the very least?
Cousins cannot use his supporting cast as an excuse for his failings either. Last season, Cousins had arguably two of the top wide receivers in the game in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. He also had Kyle Rudolph and rookie Irv Smith Jr. as solid options at tight end. Even more importantly, Dalvin Cook stayed healthy for most of the season last year and proved to be one of the top running backs in the league, which took a lot of the load off of Cousins. Not to mention, the defense of the Vikings. Head Coach Mike Zimmer has built one of the best defenses in the league during his tenure in Minnesota. Last year, the Vikings had the supporting cast around Cousins that could have won a Super Bowl. I firmly believe that if the Vikings had a proven winner leading the way last year, they could have been the last team standing in Miami. The only problem is that Kirk Cousins is not the proven winner that the Vikings need, and now the Vikings are stuck with him for the foreseeable future.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.