Last season, the Minnesota Vikings made it all the way to the NFC Championship game. Case Keenum was playing far better than anyone could have ever expected after replacing the injured Sam Bradford at the beginning of the season. Bradford, Keenum, and Teddy Bridgewater were the Vikings quarterbacks last year and they decided to let all of them walk in free agency. Keenum turned last season into a 2-year $36 million deal with the Denver Broncos. Bradford landed in Arizona and Bridgewater signed with the Jets only to be traded to the Saints right before the last pre-season game. Also, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur left for the head coaching job of the Giants.
Kirk Cousins was finishing up his second season on the franchise tag and his third year as the Redskins full-time starter. The Redskins were not willing to commit a long-term deal to Cousins. It was a rocky relationship from the jump. Cousins finally took his talents elsewhere and became a rare commodity. Quarterbacks of his quality rarely hit the free agent market which leaves you to believe they knew something the rest of the league didn’t.
The Jets offered Cousins the most money. It was a 3-year $90 million fully guaranteed deal and Cousins used it as leverage to get his contract from the Vikings. Minnesota was his preferred destination because of the established core and their ability to win now.
Fast forward about 9 months and here we are wondering whether doling out $84 million guaranteed to Cousins was the right move. His stats aren’t bad. He’s thrown for 3,698 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs, and 70.6 completion %. But the Vikings currently sit at 6-6-1 and are in danger of missing the playoffs.
The Monday night 21-7 loss against the Seahawks was especially ugly although the stats make it prettier than it actually was. He was 20-33 with 208 yards and 1 touchdown. He’s been especially bad against pressure these past few weeks. Pro Football Focus rated Cousins 25th in passer rating while under pressure from Weeks 11 through 14. This was the game that ultimately got John DeFilipo fired. DeFilipo was considered to be a highly sought after head coach candidate after the season but you have to wonder if this hurt his stock.
Cousins has too often struggled against good teams and in primetime. Before this season, Cousins was 4-19 against teams above .500. Should that have been enough to make the Vikings look elsewhere? Cousins still has time to live up to his deal but if there’s one thing the NFL lacks, it’s patience.
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