In late April of 2022, Kirk Cousins stated that he’d “like to retire as a Viking, and so I would like to play my way into that, if you will. I know I’ve got to earn the right to do that. If I could draw it up, it would be to play well enough that you never have to play or wear another jersey anywhere else.” Another season has come and gone since this interview, meaning more Capt. Kirk football was played. Has he earned the right to retire a Viking, or at least working towards it?
An Obvious Observation
I want to begin this article with what’s already clear. If you know anything about myself or my other articles, it’s that I’m a massive Kirk defender. He wasn’t the reason for the teams’ nuclear detonation the season before last, and he’s almost always not the reason for this team’s repeated underperformance in recent years. Do I think he should have been paid the albatross amount given a few years ago? No, never. Do I think bringing him has been bad, though? No, not even close. Just to set the record straight before I start getting into my reasoning, Kirk Cousins has been the best and most consistent QB this team has had in decades. That fact keeps getting forgotten, but Kirk could legitimately be a Ring of Honor candidate when compared to the other quarterbacks this team has fielded. If Bill Brown (running back, 5,757 rushing yards over 12 seasons) can be a member, Cousins absolutely can, and that’s not me dragging Brown. “You keep talking about the past, Kirk plays now,” I hear you complain. Has Kirk’s recent play deserved my praise?
An Ageless Wonder?
Compared to his peers, Cousins was top five in at least attempts, yards, touchdowns, interceptions. The reason I say “at least” is because that’s all I can see without paying for Pro Football Focus’s garbage subscription. Compared to previous seasons, this past year was an interesting one. He put up his highest passing yards total since 2016, despite getting sacked almost double how many times he was sacked last year (46 vs. 28). He did, however, jump in interceptions and drop in passing TDs, QBR, and Passer Rating. He also hit a few bumps just visually, at times looking shaky or unconfident. It’s not possible to see how much the sacks impacted this, but he definitely looked worse at times. He did, though, come through when it mattered most. Having a historically clutch season in terms of one-score games and comebacks doesn’t happen with Kellen Mond or Nick Mullens running the offense. It just doesn’t. The biggest detraction against Cousins outside of his performance is his contract. His contract alone was 15% of Minnesota’s ENTIRE CAP SPACE last year, and it increases to 16.4% for this upcoming season. He’s an incredible player, but the Vikings keep pouring money on, which makes it all too easy for trade rumors to be floated constantly. If the money can get lowered and Kirk keeps playing like he has been, I don’t think it’s in urgent need of changing. Who knows, maybe he’ll retire as a Minnesota Viking after all.