When the Vikings and Kirk Cousins joined forces in mid-March, it was perhaps the splashiest free agent signing of the 2018 offseason.
Almost seven months later, it's clear the addition of Cousins has paid off in Minnesota.
A panel of ESPN football analysts recently debated which player was the best free agent acquisition so far this season, and three of the five writers went with Cousins.
Mike Clay, Mike Sando and Kevin Seifert were the experts who tabbed Cousins as the top offseason signing as we enter Week 6 of the 2018 season.
I wanted to get creative here, but it's hard not to pick Cousins and his career-high 71 percent completion rate and 11-2 TD-to-INT mark. The Vikings' season got off to a slow start, but a big win in Philadelphia has them back on the postseason path. This is a team still loaded on defense, and Cousins has taken the offense to the next level.
He's putting up huge numbers and giving the Vikings a chance to win while the team struggles in other areas. The sheer importance of the position makes Cousins the "best" signing even though others have been exceptional values.
There were other signings who didn't cost nearly the $84 million the Vikings guaranteed to Cousins, but at this point, the only person who cares how much money he's earning is owner Zygi Wilf, who cuts the checks. Cousins ranks second in the NFL in passing yards (1,688) and No. 7 in QBR (71.0). The Vikings went big but are getting a big return.
Cousins has completed 161 of 226 passes (71.2 percent) for 1,688 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.
The quarterback, whose passer rating of 105.1 is seventh in the NFL, ranks in the top 10 in completion percentage, passing yards and touchdown passes.
Hughes embracing extensive playing time
It seems Mike Hughes has been anywhere and everywhere for the Vikings so far this season.
The rookie cornerback has been a starter at times on defense as fellow cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander have dealt with injuries. Hughes has also played on multiple special teams units.
Ben Goessling of the Star-Tribune recently sat down with Hughes to discuss his rookie season so far, a campaign that has included tons of playing time.
The rookie has started the Vikings' past two games, playing both nickel and left cornerback while working as both a punt and kickoff returner this season. Hughes, who was one of two Vikings defenders to play all 59 of the team's defensive snaps in Sunday's 23-21 victory in Philadelphia, already has been on the field for 231 plays from scrimmage this season — 36 more than Waynes played during all of his rookie season and 163 more than Alexander.
And while some of Hughes' playing time might have come because of necessity, he's earned some trust by marrying his athletic ability with an eagerness to learn.
"I expected to play this much," Hughes said. "I expected to come in here and bust my tail, and just get on the field any way I can. Obviously, they've found ways to get me out there, to contribute to the team. Everything they've had me doing, I've just been taking it in stride, and just growing as a player."
Hughes is one of four players this season with a forced fumble, an interception and a defensive touchdown. The others are Khalil Mack, Bud Dupree and Antone Exum.
Dixon, Noga named as finalists for Polynesian Football Hall of Fame
Former Vikings guard Dave Dixon and defensive end Al Noga have been named as 2019 finalists for the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
Dixon, who spent 11 seasons with the Vikings, played in 152 career games with 134 starts. He also started 11 playoff contests in Purple. Dixon, who was born in New Zealand, is of Maori ancestry.
Noga started 56 of the 73 games he played for Minnesota from 1988-92. He had 11.5 sacks in 1989 when the Vikings totaled a team-record 71. Noga recorded 29.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown with the Vikings. He was born in American Samoa
Dixon and Noga are two of 12 finalists from a pool of 100 nominees. The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame will announce four inductees on Oct. 24, and enshrine the quartet in January.