The eight-episode series gives a behind-the-scenes look at the dedication and commitment that Cousins brings to the position while balancing being a husband and a father.
It also gave a glimpse into the physical toll the 2022 season took on Cousins, who was hit more than any other quarterback and battled a rib injury late in the season.
Cousins’ toughness is unquestioned. But Joe Nelson of Bring Me The News did question how sustainable it is, urging the Vikings to consider the risks of signing him to a long-term deal considering his age and the amount of damage he’s sustained as the Vikings quarterback.
“You want to sign a guy who you just watched on TV get obliterated? It was brutal,” Nelson said on the “Purple Insider” podcast, referring to Cousins’ rib injury throughout the 2022 season. “He’s 35 years old. it’s not going to be sore, it’s going to be injured eventually. You can only be durable for so long. I would not risk signing him to anything beyond this year.”
Cousins is entering a contract year after extension talks fizzled out this offseason. Star Tribune beat reporter Ben Goessling reported that the sticking point wasn’t the money, but the duration of Cousins’ next deal.
The new regime is hoping to make its mark on the franchise by finding the next franchise quarterback after inheriting Cousins in 2022. Cousins rose to new heights last season, tying an NFL record eight-game winning drives en route to a 13-4 record, the best of his career.
But Minnesota’s commitment to Cousins remains year-to-year, considering he’s entering the 2023 season at 35 years old. He’s been hit more than any other quarterback in the league since 2020, and questioning his durability in the twilight of his career is a valid argument for moving next year.
However, the growing respect around Cousins could also lead the Vikings to sign him, considering the growing respect for him around the league.
Vikings Looking for ‘Financial Hack’ of Rookie QB in the Justin Jefferson Era, Insider Says
Kevin O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah were hired to bring the Vikings a Super Bowl after the franchise has flirted with contention over the past decade.
The Rick Spielman era was defined by whiffs at drafting a franchise quarterback, which led to the Vikings pivoting to signing veteran free agents quarterbacks who are costly on the cap sheet. Spielman sustained his job for over a decade and put together several solid years for the franchise, but Minnesota saw the NFC Conference championship just once in his stead as general manager.
The crux of signing veteran quarterbacks is they’re rarely a top-five talent. Those types of quarterbacks are never let go by the teams that drafted them.
That’s what the new regime hopes to accomplish, according to Goessling.
“[The Vikings] haven’t had this idea of a young quarterback on a rookie contract for a long time and I think there is some intrigue in the building with that idea. What would it look like if we had this kind of financial hack of paying a starting quarterback $7-$8 million a year, rather than $30 [million], and we’re getting that level of production,” Goessling said on the Access Vikings podcast in March. If you get that guy right, that’s a big if, but if you get it right, that certainly is intriguing to some of the people in that building.”
Justin Jefferson is poised to become the highest-paid wide receiver in the league, which makes having a quarterback on a pricey contract even more difficult to sustain beyond the 2023 season.
Vikings Have the Ideal Situation for Rookie QB
While the idea of drafting a first-round quarterback is spooky for a franchise as snakebitten as the Vikings, the next quarterback in Minnesota will inherit one of the best situations in the NFL.
Jefferson is reason enough to consider the Vikings to be an ideal landing spot for a rookie signal caller. But there’s also T.J. Hockenson, who should be one of the best safety valves up the middle in Minnesota for years to come.
The Vikings also boast one of the top tackle duos in the NFL in Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill. Pro Football Focus ranked both tackles ranked inside the top 20 entering the 2023 season. While the offensive line has been porous in the Cousins era, those two will be fixtures of the future and the front office could reinforce the interior offensive line with the cap savings that a rookie quarterback could bring.
Lastly, O’Connell is one of the NFL’s brightest offensive minds and showed how he could elevate Cousins while still learning all the responsibilities of being a head coach in his first year last season.
O’Connell revealed during the combine that he revels in scouting and developing young talent at the position. He should get his chance in Minnesota.