One week away from free agency opening across the NFL, ESPN named the “best” and “worst” signings for every NFL team since 2018.
Kevin Seifert added a unique twist for the Vikings, opting to declare Kirk Cousins the "best" and the "worst" signing made by the team.
In highlighting reasons why Cousins is Minnesota's best free agent addition since 2018, Seifert wrote the following:
"Judging Cousins' time in Minnesota must include the context of what preceded him. The Vikings had used 10 primary starting quarterbacks in the 12 seasons since Daunte Culpepper's career-altering knee injury in 2005. Since his arrival, Cousins has brought the Vikings a rare level of stability. In short, Cousins is the Vikings most reliable and best performer at the position over the past two decades."
As for the other side of the coin, Seifert noted:
"The premium nature of the Cousins acquisition gave him extraordinary leverage over his future, regardless of performance, while requiring the Vikings to accept that they were playing elite money — three years, $84 million fully guaranteed — to a player who was good but not transcendent. Cap considerations forced the Vikings to extend the contract twice in five seasons, and they are now mulling a third."
Cousins was the only player to fill both categories for his respective team.
At the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine last week, General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell both credited Cousins for his role in Minnesota's 13-4 season that included winning the NFC North.
Some of the fanfare and groundswell that surrounded Cousins signing with Minnesota in 2018 — as arguably the most-sought free agent in the NFL — has faded, but Cousins showed quite a bit of promise in 2022 — his first season with O'Connell and Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips.
Remarkably, 2023 will be Cousins' first in Minnesota with the same play caller (O'Connell) and coordinator as the previous season.
Set to enter the final year of his deal, the Vikings and Cousins could work on a shorter extension of one-to-two years, a longer deal or ride out this season and see what happen.
Seifert has this separate piece in which he evaluates ways to navigate future contracts of Cousins and Justin Jefferson, who is heading into the fourth year of his rookie deal. Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell spoke glowingly of Jefferson last week and have said at multiple times that he'll ideally be a Viking for years to come.
By the way, the "best" and "worst" lists included six former Vikings out of the 62 other players listed.
Jayron Kearse (Dallas in 2021), Taylor Heinicke (Washington in 2020) and Cordarrelle Patterson (Atlanta in 2021) were listed among the best signings by teams.
Sam Bradford (Arizona in 2018), Jerick McKinnon (San Francisco in 2018) and Trae Waynes (Cincinnati in 2020) were listed among the worst signings by teams. Bradford, McKinnon and Waynes each dealt with injuries that limited their impacts for those clubs.
Reaction to Kendricks' Release
Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan wrote the Vikings release of linebacker Eric Kendricks "should inspire equal parts sadness and optimism."
"Kendricks was an excellent player and leader for eight seasons. He dedicated himself to good works and was as down to earth as any Vikings star in recent memory. He will be missed.
"The cruel nature of the NFL allows us to heap praise on Kendricks while arriving at the same conclusion as the Vikings: He had lost a step, he was exposed in pass coverage during the 2022 season, he might not fit new Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores' scheme, and the team had to make payroll reductions to get under the salary cap."
Souhan noted the release shaved $9.5 million against the cap.
The Vikings need to make other moves by next week to be compliant with the maximum.