Phil Mackey is the director of content for SKOR North and host of Purple Daily and Mackey & Judd. Follow Mackey on Twitter (@PhilMackey).
Full disclosure: If, for some reason, the Wilf family gave me the keys to run the Minnesota Vikings front office, I would not have extended Kirk Cousins’ contract beyond 2022.
I would have shopped his services via trade to the 9-10 quarterback-needy teams around the league, hoping to acquire a couple draft picks, $35 million in salary cap relief, and a blank canvas to find my quarterback of the future, preferably on a 5-year, rookie-scale contract.
But the Wilfs, wisely, did not give me the keys. They gave the keys to Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who — after weeks of reported back-and-forth with the Cousins camp and discussions with other teams about potential trades — locked into two more years of the soon-to-be 34-year-old quarterback.
What’s done is done. The Vikings have committed to Cousins. And with that, here are three things I actually like about the move:
1 – The extension brings Cousins’ cap hit down to 15% of the cap this year and 16% of the cap next year.
History shows us it’s VERY HARD to win a Super Bowl with a quarterback taking up more than 13% of the cap, and this extension at least brings Cousins closer to that range, allowing the Vikings to bolster the roster in some other key areas.
2 – The extension doesn’t prevent the Vikings from drafting a quarterback in the QB-rich class of 2023.
The Vikings will try to compete as much as possible in 2022 and 2023, looking to take advantage of a weak and top-heavy NFC. But in the event that they stall out or hit a glass ceiling — likely, considering the franchise’s history and current roster holes — they’ll still have the ability to snag a quarterback in 2023, sit him behind Cousins for a year, and take advantage of the four remaining years on his rookie-scale contract.
Maybe Cousins winds up as the Alex Smith to a future Patrick Mahomes. Wishful thinking. But the most effective path to a deep playoff run is snagging a good, young quarterback in the draft, and building a monster roster around him before the big bucks kick in.
Heck, the Vikings built rock-solid rosters around Tarvaris Jackson, Christian Ponder and Teddy Bridgewater. Imagine if they had actually hit a home run with one of those young quarterbacks.
3 – Kirk Cousins and Kevin O’Connell will be an interesting partnership to watch.
Cousins and Zimmer were an oil-and-water partnership from Day 1. They didn’t even start meeting weekly until Year 4, and by then it was too late.
O’Connell will come in with a previous relationship with Cousins, and he will likely spend the majority of his time looking for ways to maximize that relationship and the team’s antiquated passing attack.
If there is another level to Cousins’ game, O’Connell should be able to unlock it. And if that happens, the Vikings offense should jump considerably from 14th in points per game last season.