It’s never been smooth sailing for Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings. There have been moments and seasons, but ultimately, at the end of the day, the tumultuous relationship between Cousins and the Minnesota fanbase seems to rear its ugly head.
Case in point — just look at how this 2022 NFL season came to a close. Kirk had a great year. The team had a great year. Expectations were outperformed, the rebuild is ahead of schedule, and the team only lost four games all season long.
But the season’s final play, the Kirk Cousins 3-yard checkdown on 4th and 8, soured everything good that he and the team had accomplished this season. By now, this is just the nature of Minnesota sports, we’ve accepted it, but it still stings.
But it goes beyond that.
That one play may have a ripple effect on the player, organization, and fanbase that nobody wants to see happen.
Former Viking Says “Think Twice” about Kirk Cousins after His Decision to ‘Checkdown’
Former Minnesota Vikings offensive guard Alex Boone shared his thoughts on the situation earlier today, and he flat-out said, “If I’m a free agent and I’m a guard, and Minnesota offers me, ‘I’m like, are you guys really rolling with Kirk again? Are you doing this?’ I was all about him all year, one play could really screw you up. It would make me think twice.”
Sure, we were all disappointed when Cousins checked it down to T.J. Hockenson short of the sticks, bringing an amazing season to a screeching halt. But if the reality of the matter is that his decision to check it down could end up jeopardizing the window the team might have with guys like Justin Jefferson, Christian Darrisaw, and Brian O’Neill — well, the situation just got a whole lot worse because the highly-paid QB opted to play conservative.
“He’s not going to take you anywhere,” Boone continued. “He showed you…When you check down on a 4th and 8 in a playoff game…it can ruin you. One bad play can really, really piss a lot of people off…I don’t know why he didn’t take off, I don’t know why he didn’t try to extend it with every bit of ounce of might he had. Dude, it’s 4th and 8. The game is on the line. This is our season. If we’re ever going to push, it’s now.”
But he didn’t.
There was a difference in the Cousins that we saw and heard about this season. He carried himself differently, more confidently, as if a weight holding him down in the past had been removed, and he had been free to extend. Was all of that goodwill built up throughout the preseason and into the regular season now thrown out the window because he opted to dump it down?
He may just be one former player, but Boone seems to think it could send the Vikings situation with Cousins into a downward spiral. As he continued to share, he explained the impact it could have on free agents considering jumping on with the Vikings, the players in the locker room, and the front office’s approach to handling him into the future.
“If I’m the GM in MN,” Boone shared, “I’m [making the calls]. I’m standing by my team. I’m letting them know that this was not acceptable. It’s not good enough for me.”
While it hasn’t turned out to be the detrimental handicap to the team that the naysayers initially thought it might turn into, Cousins’ contract becomes the focal point of this conversation. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is now turning his gaze to the future and considering what it might look like with or without Cousins leading this offense. And this one play, one of the hundreds that Cousins ran this season, could carry the weight of a make-or-break, decision-making scenario.
Cousins has one year left on his current contract with the Vikings. Having extended him a few times now, opting to kick the can down the road with some of the guaranteed money, the Vikings need to decide how they want to handle their quarterback situation beyond 2023.
And frankly, the decision probably needs to be made before next season. With a new vision in the building and new decision-makers chiming in, it’s not just the on-field, season-long statistics that will be factored in. Instead, both the good attributes of Cousins’ change this season — and the bad ones that continue to showcase some of the detriments — will be taken into account.
Aj Mansour is a member of The Power Trip Morning Show on KFAN and works for iHeartMedia and the Vikings Radio Network. He’s also a senior writer for VikingsTerritory.com. Be sure to follow him on social media for the latest Vikings news and big opinions – @AjKFAN