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Should the Vikings offer Kirk Cousins a long-term contract?

As the Minnesota Vikings investigate every possible option for their 2018 starting quarterback position, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins’ name will inevitably be part of the conversation.

Washington has franchise tagged Cousins the last two years and could tag him again, but a third tag would cost the team $34 million. If Washington does not deal him or sign him to a long-term contract, Cousins will become a free agent, giving the Vikings an opportunity to make him their franchise quarterback.

While Ian Rapaport has reported Washington may choose to tag him again, they might have questions about whether he is worth the price that comes along with franchise QBs. Former GM Scot McCloughan was asked by a Denver radio station whether Cousins belongs in the top tier of NFL quarterbacks.

“He’s a good player,” McCloughan said. “Is he special? I don’t see special. But also, we were still building a roster around him to make him special…. He’s talented. Talent is good at quarterback in the NFL. He’s won games. I know his record overall is not over .500. I know he has not won a playoff game. But he’s competitive. He works his tail off. He’s so methodical. Every day he has planned out. He’s always in the building; he’s always watching tape; he’s always talking to coaches; he was talking to me. From the standpoint of the tangibles, they’re excellent. You just need to have some talent around him because you don’t want him to be throwing the ball 35 to 40 times to win the game. You want to have a running game, have a good defense, good [special] teams, and then let him do what he does.”

Cousins’ traditional statistics suggest that he’s far better than average. Over the last three years, the former Michigan State QB ranks only behind Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers in quarterback rating.

Per Football Reference, here are his career numbers:

His yardage totals, yards per attempt and rating would all suggest Cousins is worth pursuing for the Vikings. There’s also the fact that he’s played two strong games against Minnesota over the last two years, beating the Vikings in 2016 and posting 30 points this year.

Former Washington coach Mike Shanahan  is very much on Cousins’ side, arguing that he is a “special” quarterback.

“There’s no question in my mind that he’s a special player,” Shanahan told the Daily News on Monday. “If you don’t think he’s a special player, that means you don’t watch him practice very often. You take a look at some of the games he’s played in. He hasn’t played with a good defense that’s been in the upper half of the league, I don’t think, since he’s been there. You can’t always do it by yourself. You got to have an offense and a defense for a quarterback to be really successful… especially when you get in the playoffs. But I guarantee you he’s a special guy.”

A closer investigation into Cousins’ numbers raises some questions about what he might need to be successful.

Pro Football Focus’s 2017 metrics rank him poorly in many key categories, especially on third downs.

His three-year grades from PFF, which focuses on the quality of a quarterback’s throws, lands him more in the mid-pack category than elite. Cousins ranked 14th, ninth and 20th in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively.

It would be reasonable to project more toward the top end of Cousins’ production than the bottom considering the Vikings have a strong supporting cast with receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs and running back Dalvin Cook.

For the first time since Cousins solidified the job, he would have a better-than-average defense if he landed in Minnesota. Washington has ranked 28th, 28th and 21st in yards allowed and hasn’t cracked the top half of the league in points allowed.

Even if Cousins isn’t in the elite category of quarterbacks, a reasonable projection with a top-notch defense would put the Vikings in Super Bowl contention again next year. But it would likely hurt their long-term chances.

Cousins could be asking for a contract similar to the one Matthew Stafford signed. According to, the cap number for Stafford’s deal increases to $31.5 million by 2020.

Matthew Stafford’s contract:

Whether the Vikings would offer Cousins this type of deal may depend entirely on whether they think Teddy Bridgewater or Case Keenum can be a long-term option.

  • Based God

    If Kirk Cousins was worth big money his team would have made the playoffs with him as the starter.

  • Famfirst

    I would take Keenum over Cousins every day.

    • Marc Spector

      You can’t be serious

    • Ryan DeBock

      That’s cool, but those of us who actually watch football disagree.

    • brian199511

      Not really, but the jump from Keenum to Cousins ain’t worth what they would have to pay.

      • PurplePrideInPS

        If Keenum plays out of his mind like he did this year, then it wouldn’t be as great an upgrade. But if Keenum plays closer to his reality, its a huge upgrade. If you can get Keenum for 10-12 million, fine. If you have to pay him closer to 20 million, IT’S NOT A GOOD INVESTMENT. If the Vikings believe Bridgewater is healthy and going to be what they thought he would be, they should go with him on a reasonable contract. If they are not certain, they should let him go. But if you have to pay Cousins 25 million or Keenum 20 million, I would take Cousins every time. The window for this team to win a championship is only going to be open for a few more seasons. If they had a top 10-12 quarterback, they would have an incredible chance to win a Super Bowl. I think they also need to do something to get the team excited again after the way the season ended. What better way than to sign the biggest free agent in the off season and at the most important position? The Vikings also had about 22 million in QB salaries in 2017. If they can get Cousins for 25 million and have Sloter as the backup, or get a decent backup for the 2-3 million range, they would be close to what they spent on QBs in 2017. Given the salary cap increase that is coming for 2018, they would be paying about the same percentage of their cap space on QBs for 2018.

        • GlobeTrotter

          I wholeheartedly agree with this post, makes a lot of sense.

    • Lane Quenemoen


    • PurplePrideInPS

      Thank God you are not the Vikings GM. If you had stated for a certain dollar amount, you might have an argument. But just Keenum over Cousins straight up is silly.

  • linus

    I’d prefer Alex Smith (depending on what they’d have to give up in a trade), but the Vikings will have something like $63 million in cap space this year after Sharrif Floyd comes off the books, so even if they gave Cousins a front-loaded deal that counted $30-plus million against this year’s cap, they’d still have room to start working on extensions for guys like Hunter, Barr, Kendricks, and Diggs.

    • Daxquartermain


      • brian199511

        $30 million? Not a good idea. But the front loaded part is good. With Smith gone I think Cousins is just too much money. They won’t keep the defense together with that contract at QB.

  • Sign Keenum 3y 58m


  • RobSkolVikes

    Keenum? Bridgewater? Cousins? Alex Smith? What scares me, as a Loyal Vikings Fan, is none of these scenarios give me any confidence. I just don’t want to overpay for any of them, and live with regret. I think our best move is to try and Toll Bridgewaters contract, then to trade him. I also think we should TRY to re-sign Keenum on a short cheap extension. Then, we should absolutely try to draft one of these top QB prospects, such as Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson if they are within reach. My ideal scenario is to try and trade for Eli Manning and Draft Baker Mayfield, and let bridgewater/keenum/bradford all walk!!! But I’m sure thats a dream. It would work though.

    • Justin Weishaar

      Mayfield will not be around at 30. And will take 3 to 4 years to bloom as a qb. The defense is getting old and cap will not there anymore.

      If you take kirk, you bet it all on 3 year window. Case is the same. Teddy will need another year or two to bloom, and will cost in the middle ground of cap. 15 million likely.
      Drafting a great qb prospect is not our best option. Bidding war with Denver for kirk is also not our best

      • brian199511

        Teddy isn’t worth half of $15 million but Keenum is for sure, say a front loaded $15mil per year for three years.

        • Justin Weishaar

          You really don’t understand the qb market do you. Guys like mike glenon got 15 million a year and so will aj macharon in cin. Case will commamd 20 to 25 on the open market. Teams are just that desperate

          • brian199511

            What I understand is economics and the salary cap. Also the fact a team can effect the market as does every signing. I forgotten more about market forces, economics and financial management than you will ever know. If someone, as you say, is dumb enough to give Keenum $25 mil per on a long term contract you move on. Saying no is acceptable. Plan B would be a short term prove it deal for Teddy or Sam, Sloter and drafting a developmental guy in the mid-rounds like Luke Falk. If the Vikings put $25 mil per year in one position they will lose their defense and OL.

          • Bob T.

            Teddy can be had cheap as a #2 competing for the 1. I completely agree, No Overspending!!! If they go then they go. One will stay. This Defense and O-line is getting closer and I want to finish on that path and build depth with the Cap space we have. I would like Case at about 15 a year for 3 years, and teach him the killer instinct. Then get the O.C. that has one too. I like Falk, but prefer Rudolph. SKOL Brian!!!

          • brian199511

            Check closer on Falk. His coach, Leach, is not good and he could do much more with great coaching. And he still set every Pac 12 record there is.

          • Bob T.

            Maybe like Defilippo? Rumors are floating around we are waiting for him. I would be happy if they pick him.

          • PurplePrideInPS

            Brian, you are obvious an economics savant, but Justin has some legit points. NONE of us know what the QB market is going to be this spring. There are quite a few teams that need quarterbacks and we don’t know what teams will pay for the limited number of QBs that will be available. But I would agree with him that Keenum is going to get closer to the $20 million range than the “reasonable” contract everyone thinks he will sign with Minnesota. Also, if Teddy meets with a team and their doctors pass him on a physical, he will get more than people think. Someone will take a chance on a 25 year old first round pick that has shown as much promise as Teddy. And anyone that is saying we need to draft a quarterback is so out of touch with NFL reality. We maybe should draft one, but it will be a roll of the dice for future years. This team is in a win now mode and the Vikings need to pay the best quarterback available to run their offense. I don’t care it they draft a quarterback.

    • brian199511

      No one is going to trade for Bridgewater, at least anything worth spit. No one knows if he can even play, even the Vikings in my opinion. Also I would draft a second day QB like Luke Falk who is as good as any of the guys who will go higher. Keep Keenum maybe on a front loaded deal, keep Sloter, draft Falk and keep the defense together.

  • fred

    I really want to see this kid the vikes got from Denver. Word is he is pretty damn good. Other than that. I would be fine with Keenum and or cousins or smith. I would build the best damn offensive line I could and the best defensive backfield I could and go from there. The vikes proved a game manager can get you there if he has protection and the defense is stacked. Unfortunately the vikes just didn’t show up for the big game as usual. They’ve been doing that since I started watching them in 68.

    • Chuck Urso

      So true about showing up! I have been watching them since 70. I would work on depth on the two lines along with a needed starter to replace Sharif. Keenum for one more year with Sloter slowly working himself in if he has what it takes. I do not see Bridgewater taking this team to the promised land!

      • linus

        Sharrif Floyd hasn’t played in almost two years, so why would they need to “replace” him?

        • Wrex1 Kettles


    • Dark Ages

      Because they did not have a big time QB

      • Duane

        So your saying Foles is a big time q.b.? Not !

        • Dark Ages

          Bigger than Keenum proved to be.

      • Chuck Abbuhl

        The Vikings have had Fran, Tommy, Randall, Daunte, and Brett but still couldn’t get over the hump.

        • Dark Ages

          True there are no guarantees .. in MN we get that.

  • mnwild40

    KC just traded Alex Smith to the Redskins and he was signed to a 4 yr deal…Now it gets crazy!!!!

    • brian199511

      4 yrs $94 million I think and they gave the Chiefs a third rounder and a pretty good CB. Not a bad deal all around. I think the Vikings have to keep two of the three of Sam, Teddy and Case given the knee problems and also keep Sloter. Contracts have to be reasonable and should be.

  • Jay Foxx

    I think Cousins goes to the Browns, Keenum goes elsewhere, and Bridgewater is our starter for 2018.

    • brian199511

      You Teddy guys just amaze me. I love the guy as a person but not one of us knows if he can even play and he sure wasn’t lights out before suffering the worst injury in sports after death or paralysis. I personally don’t think even the team knows for sure if he can play or they would have kept him active. If Cousins wants to, as he has plainly said, play for a contender than he isn’t going to Cleveland but you may be right, the winning talk is just talk and he takes the most money. If the Vikings go with Bridgewater they have to keep either Bradford or Keenum and the two they end up with have to be reasonable contracts. Don’t see that happening. What a conundrum.

  • TBIloveyou2018

    We’re Down to Bradford, Cousins, or Keenum. I’ll support Keenum, but I want either Bradford or Cousins.

  • EMPiiRE

    Short answer, yes. Long answer, hell yes.

  • Sniper 84

    Vikes should hard charge right now and sign Jimmy Garoppolo to a 5 year $120M deal before 49ers sign him and Aaron Rogers impending new deal throws everything out of whack. The chance for this is there. He’s the right age, with the right development under his belt, and he can ball. JG would’ve already signed a deal if he really wanted to stay, but like any smart up and comer, he doesn’t want to wade through the pains of rebuilding. Vikes are playoff and Super Bowl ready now. If salary cap gets tight as a result, then don’t re-sign Waynes or Barr and draft better. FA OT Solder should be our other FA target. Then don’t miss on the draft, focused on OG, CB, LB, and TE (who can catch AND block).

    • linus

      Ummm… you do realize that nobody but the 49ers can negotiate with Garoppolo before March, don’t you? They’ll do whatever is necessary to keep him.

    • Al Ashby

      What about DT? Since Sharif Floyd seems to be done, they need some more muscle up front…

      • PurplePrideInPS

        We do need a DT, but that is not what this conversation is about. FOCUS!

      • Kurt Kieswetter

        the man is Maurice hurst in the first round…..I’m so glad you bring up the dt position…..everyone talks about O LINE in the first round but you can find guards in the following round or two…….the 3 tech dt is so crucial to a zimmer D…..tom Johnson and Stephen are average players that don’t produce enough burst and pass rush ability that needs to take advantage of the double team joseph commands…..a legit 3 tech dt is exactly what will make the pass rush elite and there for take this D to an incredible level…..most mock drafts have hurst going to either dallas or Detroit so were gonna need some luck and hope they pass on him for another need because were missing some draft picks to move up…..but man oh man…..the kid has such elite burst and explosion…..we need our next kevin williams

    • PurplePrideInPS

      NOT POSSIBLE! SF will either sign him to a long-term contract, franchise him, or transition him. SF controls his rights and they will not let him walk. We need to be realistic about our options. It’s either Keenum, Bridgewater, Bradford or Cousins.

  • Mark L

    Why should we have to offer a ridiculous salary to anyone.

    Seeing this as what it is it’s a ready made spot any QB should gladly want great supporting staff the defense the offense the coaches.

    We should be a team that people are trying to get too, we set are sights too low with this loser mentality, we are good and we can keep getting better.

    Offer Brees a hell of a lot of money and try to draft a young guy to learn from him for 2 years

  • blutrainspotter


  • Lane Quenemoen

    Yes, make a splash for once.

    • cka2nd

      “Downside” only if you think 34 is too old to still be any good, because the best passer rating of his career, including completing more than two-thirds of his passes, five TD’s for every interception and eight yards per pass is otherwise hardly a “downside” year.

  • Jim K

    No. He is not worth what he is asking

  • Topgunn

    Cousins would seem to be the guy now and with Smith getting roughly $23.5 million a year $25-27 million will probably be what it would take to get Cousins. He won’t go to the Browns. He wants to win, and the Vikings would be his BEST landing spot. So signing Cousins would leave you with Him and Sloter. In that scenario you either toll Teddy or sign sign Bradford to a $8-10 deal to back up Cousins with either a team or player option for year #2. There is no way the Vikings can afford NOT to toll Teddy. He’s just too big of a question mark and risk. So either toll his contract for next season and let him work out the kinks as Cousin’s backup, or just let Teddy walk and get a $5 million dollar-one year deal from Miami.

  • Pelosifan

    Bridgewater if healthy has a way higher ceiling than Cousins. If Cousins is so good why would Jay Gruden dump him for a 34 year old journeyman like Alex Smith. Who by the way the Cheifs dumped as well.

    • dan r

      Three teams in 13 years doesn’t make him a journeyman.

    • PurplePrideInPS

      Cousins was a 4th round pick the same year RG3 was taken second overall. The team and especially the idiot owner thought he was just going to be their backup QB. When they finally dumped RG3, Cousins was made the starter. But the Redskins managed the situation very poorly. Cousins had a great year, but the Redskins doubted him and offered him a terrible contract. So Cousins made them sign him to a franchise contract the last two seasons because of the way they treated him. If they could go back a couple years, I guarantee they would offer him a legit starting QB contract. They knew he was going to walk this year if they didn’t franchise him for the 3rd time at $34 million, so they panicked and traded for Alex Smith.

  • Aj Time

    No. Sign Keenum to a contract like the Bears signed Glennon to last year. 3 years 45M, 18.5M guaranteed. Years 2 and 3 are team options. It would be cheaper than franchise tag and gives us two more years if he plays good, and we can walk away if it doesn’t.

    • PurplePrideInPS

      If the Vikings management signs Keenum to a Glennon contract, they should be fired. Or they will get what the Bears did with Glennon. And Keenum is probably going to be signed for a bigger contract than 3 years and 45M. Our organization is much better run than that. Keenum is going to be the starter for the Browns, Bills or Cardinals in 2018. Our starter in 2018 will either be Bridgewater or Cousins.

  • styx rogan

    hell no… we got what we need right under are noses

  • chris minnesota fan

    all i know is now is the time for the vikings to get the best quarterback they can Smith is gone now Washington stole him why didn’t the vikes do that….anyway Cousins would be so awesome with the vikings with our offensive group. His worst year i believe is better than Keenums best year this year. Keenum is a solid backup game manager we need someone with a bigger arm to stretch the field i hope we get someone better. Bradford has a good arm but not a franchise guy with the injury concerns he has. Bridgewater is a backup at best .so idk but my bet is we wont make a splash with our qb this year like normal and this has been our problem holding us back from championships since the year we had favre it sucks. Elite team mediocre qbs as normal i pray we get a franchise qb. Go vikes

  • T-Car

    NO. Way, way too much money. What has he accomplished? Teams do not let franchise QBs walk, and that is what Washington has done. No.

    • PurplePrideInPS

      Teams don’t let franchise quarterbacks walk? The Chargers let Brees walk. The Rams let Kurt Warner walk. The Vikings let Rich Gannon walk. The Bucs let Steve Young walk. Ever heard of Favre, Montana, or Manning? There are many other good QBs that have changed teams. NFL teams are not infallible. They do make mistakes. Sometimes it’s based on money, sometimes they have backups on their roster they think may be just as good or better. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong. Cousins was a 4th round pick the same year RG3 was taken second overall. The team and especially the owner thought he was just going to be their backup QB. When they finally dumped RG3, Cousins was made the starter. But the Redskins managed the situation very poorly. Cousins had a great year, but the Redskins doubted him and offered him a terrible contract. So Cousins made them sign him to a franchise contract the last two seasons because of the way they treated him. If they could go back a couple years ago, I guarantee they would offer him a legit starting QB contract. They knew he was going to walk this year if they didn’t franchise him for the 3rd time at $34 million, so they panicked and traded for Alex Smith. So yes, poorly run NFL teams do let franchise quarterbacks go.

  • Tim Yamanaka

    It’s not a bad idea but is he that much better then Keenum? All 3 of your qbs can be starters, but Sam you can’t trust he’d make it through the season even though I think his talent is better then teddy n Keenum, Teddy is coming from an injury that was worse then any ACL he almost lost his leg! So I say it’s either keep Keenum or sign Cousins. But can you sign him and all the other guys on your team you want to keep??? If I was Cousins I would Chose a team that is close to SB contention so yes Vikings, Jags, Denver, & maybe Arizona.

  • Drediock

    It would seem that Cousins as mentioned here has one key question mark too.
    Interceptions in key games

    “Cousins is out of Washington mainly because he wasn’t as efficient as
    coach Jay Gruden wanted him to be in a system designed for efficiency.
    Cousins hasn’t been able to shake his turnover habit in key games,
    leading to consistent double-digit interception totals as a starter.”

  • Topgunn

    I love the Garappolo idea. But can the 49ers “Franchise” him? Or is he a flat out FA. If he’s a FA I would be very surprised if he just returned to the 49ers without testing the waters to see what the Vikings or Denver would offer him. Cousins is a clear upgrade over anybody that we had on the roster last year, but Garappolo is younger and took a lousy 49ers team to 5 straight wins to end the season. I say you go all in on that if you can. The only problem with Jimmy G. is that if we wait for him, the Cousins ship will have already sailed. Toll Teddy B and if the players union sues and wins. If they do, cut him and bring back Bradford to back up Cousins or Jimmy G with Sloter the QB of the future.

    • PurplePrideInPS

      Garoppolo is not an option! We have no chance of getting him! NONE! One of three things will happen. He will either be signed to a long-term contract, given the franchise tag, or given the transition tag. If the 49ers opt for the transition tag, they will match any offer given by another team. HE IS NOT LEAVING SF!


    Go after Jimmy G.!

    • PurplePrideInPS

      NOT POSSIBLE! He will either be signed to a long-term contract by SF, or he will be franchised. SF controls his rights and they will not let him walk. We would have a greater chance getting Aaron Rodgers than Jimmy G. And we have no chance getting Rodgers. So we need to be realistic about our options.

  • Andre Esters

    Hate to say it, but when Alex Smith was mentioned, I was all for Minnesota offering a solid 1 year deal… now that Cousins is the next best option, I wouldn’t mind if the Vikes posed the question “are you interested in the purple, Kirk?”

    Then reality throws a sobering uppercut… after being disrespected and doubted in Washington, I’m pretty sure Cousins has absolutely no interest in 1-year deals any longer. Dude likely wants a team to be his and be paid as such… Minnesota can offer the starting spot, but they can’t afford any mega-deals.

    It all cycles back to Teddy and possibly Keenum…

  • Louis

    Cousins would be great


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