With the NFL free agent market set to officially open on March 14, the Vikings enter with one primary mission: finding a stable, long-term solution to their quarterback position. Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, and Teddy Bridgewater are all set to hit the open market. It is looking more and more likely Minnesota will have a different opening-day starter for the third straight year. In addition to those three, the Vikings have recently been linked to free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins as a possible free agent target.
As Minnesota ended 2017 one win shy of the Super Bowl, all options are on the table. They did not franchise any of their quarterbacks and declined Bridgewater’s fifth year option last offseason. All of those decisions have led to this moment.
With the legal tampering period set to begin on Monday, members at Full Press Coverage Vikings discussed which direction the team is likely to go.
2017 officially marked the Vikings’ championship window being open. That means they can no longer afford to expend any more time figuring out the revolving door at quarterback. I believe they go with the most proven quarterback on the market in Cousins.
He has averaged over 4,000 yards, 27 touchdowns and 67 percent completion for the past three seasons. Much of that time, Cousins has had little support from his defense or running game. This past season, he was still able to produce without having much help from a young receiving corps. Despite the weaknesses around him, Cousins’ teams had been competitive every year because of his play, including a division title in 2015. He may be the most costly option, but he is the safest bet on the market.
At the least, Cousins keeps Minnesota on top of the NFC North, so long as they stay healthy. With a top-12 quarterback at the helm for the division’s most talented team, Aaron Rodgers‘ days of willing the Packers to division titles on his own are likely over.
All signs point to Cousins wearing the purple and gold. While many in the Vikings’ fan base hope he signs for less than $30 million a year, it seems pretty likely that this deal will get done.
With the moves the Eagles and Rams have already made, the Vikings need to add Cousins to the mix. The main competition for Minnesota in the NFC all have a legitimate franchise quarterback. Now it is time for the Vikings to get theirs in Cousins.
At this point, it has to be Cousins. The Vikings have a star-studded roster with modest contracts surrounded by solid role players in every position group. Their defense is ready to compete for a Super Bowl now. Their offensive weapons are ready now. The one thing left to get the train back on the track is an above-average conductor. Cousins is that. Keenum is not and, until he proves otherwise, neither is Bridgewater. Bradford plays the part, but he remains unreliable due to his health.
The NFC is loaded and the young teams are only going to get better. The Rams are gearing up for a period of sustained success and the Eagles won a Super Bowl without their MVP quarterback. Neither of these teams are going anywhere. Add in the Saints, Falcons, Panthers, Cowboys, Lions, 49ers and yes, Rodgers and the Packers, and there is simply no room to waste seasons on mediocre quarterbacks. Windows do not stay open long in the NFL. Look no further than the Seahawks’ situation; they are a few short years removed from a Super Bowl. Now they are blowing up their roster.
Cousins’ contract will be steep, but 2020 does not matter today. 2018 and 2019 matter and that is what the Cousins signing would be for: a Super Bowl in the next two years.