Vikings Cut New QB Amid Kirk Cousins Controversy

Kirk Cousins

Getty Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins

It was only a matter of time before the mercenary arms would be cut loose.

After signing a pair of quarterbacks to fill in for Kirk Cousins, Nate Stanley and Kellen Mond (who were all placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Monday, August 2), the Minnesota Vikings have cut Case Cookus, who practiced three days with the team.

Cousins and Stanley, both deemed “high-risk” close contacts, had to isolate a mandatory five-day period after Mond tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. Cousins and Stanley were both activated to the roster on Thursday, spurring Cookus’ departure.

Mond, who is unvaccinated, is still under quarantine for at least nine more days, while Cousins and Stanley join Jake Browning and recently signed quarterback Danny Etling as the team’s passers.

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Cousins’ Status This Season in Question

While Cousins’ return to practice was an encouraging sign, his stance and reaction to his five-day absence were concerning on several levels.

Cousins seemed to have checked all the boxes when doing everything within his control to avoid missing time. He opened his Thursday press conference elaborating that he was actually “not a close contact” with Mond on his own volition. The quarterbacks meeting room was too small, which has since been changed to respect NFL guidelines.

This comment has come across as Cousins blaming the size of the room and not taking personal responsibility. Meanwhile, the 33-year-old quarterback pleaded to do “whatever it takes” to follow protocols and not miss a game — besides getting vaccinated. He agreed with reporters that, from a team perspective, that is the best course of action but maintains that the decision is personal and that he’d rather follow protocols.

The NFL has incentivized players to get vaccinated by allowing them to forgo harsher rules on social distancing, quarantine requirements, travel restrictions and mask wearing than a season ago. Players who are unvaccinated are subject to close contact designations that would land them on the COVID-19 reserve list for a period of time even if they do not have COVID-19 — similar to what happened in the quarterbacks room last week.

This past week was the first time Cousins missed four practices in a row in his career, however, he appears unconcerned about his availability. If Cousins were to land on the COVID-19 reserve list again, it would be deemed a non-football-related injury that would cost Cousins a game check — a relatively small pay cut when considering the guarantees in his contract.

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Vikings Need Vaccinated QBs

Cousins’ personal decision to remain unvaccinated is just that, personal. However, it does leave the Vikings at a competitive disadvantage with the risk he runs of landing on the COVID-19 reserve list again.

The quarterbacks room was ravaged on Saturday, leaving just Jake Browning, who is vaccinated, to take every rep in practice. Despite Cousins and Stanley testing negative for COVID-19 throughout the week, Browning was the only available quarterback due to NFL guidelines.

The Vikings currently have the lowest vaccination rate of any team in the NFL at 64.5%, per the Washington Post. The Washington Post reported that 90% of NFL players are at least partially vaccinated.

Minnesota may need a more serviceable backup quarterback who is vaccinated if the team does not improve its vaccination rate.

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