The Minnesota Vikings were eliminated from the postseason by the New York Giants on Sunday after a 31-24 loss in the Wildcard Round. The Giants were hungry, the Vikings defense failed to force turnovers — its modus operandi — and Minnesota was sent packing from a 13-win season with no playoff win to show for it.
Predictably, various Vikings fans blamed the quarterback for the loss, as Kirk Cousins threw “short of the sticks” on Minnesota’s final 4th and 8 offensive play, a desperate heave by Cousins, who was about to encounter a game-ending back. Per ESPN’s QBR metric, the Vikings signal-caller had his best game of the entire season, but most people will choose to remember the final unsuccessful dinker completion to TE T.J. Hockenson — not Minnesota’s awful defensive performance. It’s the nature of the beast in The Digital Age.
Vikings Fans Turn Sights on Shiny New Target
So, how do fans cope with the illogical thought that Cousins caused the playoff loss? Easy — go get Lamar Jackson from the Baltimore Ravens.
Drafted in 2018 by the Ravens, Jackson’s rookie contract runs out in March. Baltimore curiously didn’t extend Jackson, a move almost always in the books by now, as teams rarely let a herculean player hit the final year of his rookie deal.
But the oft-injured Jackson is a different ball of wax. The Ravens are evidently skittish about getting married to a mobile quarterback for $250+ million — probably because, for example, Jackson wasn’t available for the Ravens 2022 playoff push. Baltimore lost Sunday night to the Cincinnati Bengals, with Jackson nowhere to be found due to injury.
The injury history doesn’t faze many Vikings fans, though. To them, Jackson represents the anti-Cousins — mobile, MVP caliber, young, and dynamic. The possibility of injury does not matter, nor does Jackson’s absence from the 2022 postseason or his underwhelming 2021 season that was — you guessed it — ravaged by injury.
A Twitter account called Icey tweeted, “I hope the Vikings trade for him kirk is at his highest value trade kirk and 2 first round picks for Lamar.”
Joe Espy tweeted, “Kirk and a pick for Lamar.” A social media user named The Zoe of Wall Street added, “Vikings need Lamar.”
Joe Spinosa posted to Twitter, “Please, please trade 2 firsts & $250m to get Lamar. I would be so happy.”
And those four tweets were only the tip of the iceberg.
In theory, the Vikings could trade Cousins, but the soon-to-be 35-year-old would have to approve the deal. When general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah added an extra year onto Cousins’ contract 10 months ago, a no-trade clause was slapped in the negotiations. Cousins cannot be dealt anywhere without his consent.
There’s also the dead-cap financial issue. The Vikings would endure a $48.75 million dead cap number against the books if Cousins was traded.
Ready for some realism? If the Vikings plot QB next steps in the 2023 offseason, electively planning life-after-Cousins, it would likely involve a draft pick from the 2023 NFL Draft — not marriage with an injury-riddled quarterback who will command at least $250 million. The Vikings must pay Justin Jefferson soon, and his big-money contract will kick in after the 2024 season. Then, Minnesota is likely to pair Jefferson with an affordable passer — you know, a rookie — to offset Jefferson’s fat sack of cash. It’s how the business works.
Still, fans will chirp about Jackson until the Ravens do something with him. Be prepared.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).