NFL Analyst Defends Vikings’ Kirk Cousins in Lamar Jackson Debate

Lamar Jackson

Getty Lamar Jackson is reportedly expected to earn over $40M a year from his next contract.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ image in the NFL media landscape is cemented amid his 12th season in the league.

He’s been a quarterback who, despite showing good numbers, hasn’t gotten the job done — an argument that won’t rest until he does just that.

But despite his lack of playoff success, Cousins has found himself in conversation with some of the league’s best quarterbacks.

Most recently, ESPN’s Chris Russo came to Cousins’ defense in a debate involving 2018 NFL MVP and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.


Chris Russo Defends Taking Kirk Cousins Over Lamar Jackson

In a September 14 airing of ESPN’s First Take, Chirs Russo and Stephen A. Smith were embattled in a fierce debate over whether they would take Cousins or Jackson.

Smith was appalled Cousins’ name was even spoken in the same breath as Jackson, however, Russo did not back down from his stance in taking Cousins.

“What big moments has Kirk Cousins had,” Smith pleaded.

“He won a playoff game against Drew Brees,” Russo replied. “You go crazy on Lamar Jackson — he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread — how many playoff games has he won on the road. … How come Cousins gets pounded when he’s [only] won one too?”

“Cousins is underrated he’s a lot better than what people think he is,” Russo added.

Russo’s case holds some weight, considering both Cousins and Jackson have one playoff win apiece.

But while Jackson falls into a category of quarterback where he elevates the pieces around him, Cousins has largely been a quarterback who is the sum of the talent surrounding him. Jackson hasn’t nearly had the same level of talent in Baltimore but has a 38-12 record in the regular season to show for it.

Cousins, on the other hand, has a 60-59-2 career record in the regular season and a 34-29-1 regular-season record since arriving in Minnesota in 2018.


Kirk Cousins and Lamar Jackson at Similar Crossroads

Both Cousins and Jackson are at a similar crossroads in their careers despite being nine years apart in age. The Ravens opted to not reach a deal in contract extension talks with Jackson, who will play a fifth and final year on his rookie contract in a prove-it season.

Meanwhile, the new Vikings regime under general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is carefully calculating its future, namely what to do with Cousins.

The Vikings did sign Cousins to a one-year contract extension that keeps him under team control through the 2023 season. It also includes a no-trade clause.

However, the decision was largely to lower Cousins’ cap hit, which would have been the highest in the league at $45 million in 2022. The no-trade clause also isn’t absolute and can be maneuvered around with Cousins’ consent.

That’s a conversation that may never surface if Cousins puts the best version of himself on the field with head coach Kevin O’Connell in his ear.

After years of being known as a quarterback who folds under pressure, Cousins broke that mold, completing 23 of 32 pass attempts (71.9%) for 277 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 1. He showed poise despite being pressured on 42% of his dropbacks, tallying a 116.2 passer rating under pressure.

He posted a 72.5 passer rating under pressure last season, according to WCCO’s Paul Hodowanic.

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