Free agency is still several weeks away, but the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes are already heating up. Currently, there are roughly half a dozen teams that are in the running to land “Captain Kirk.” The Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals have all shown interest in Cousins so far, with the Minnesota Vikings rounding out the top five.
Of these teams, however, the Vikings stick out as the most questionable team to pursue Cousins. Although Cousins is a proven NFL starter, there are several risks that teams should be weary of. Here’s why the Minnesota Vikings should not sign Kirk Cousins
The price tag
The most obvious reason the Vikings should not sign Cousins is the amount of cap space required to do so. To sign Cousins, the Vikings would have to compete with both the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets. Currently, Cleveland has over $100 million in available cap space, and the Jets have over $80 million.
Reports have also surfaced that Cousins could command a contract as rich as $30 million a year in free agency. This would be the most expensive contract in NFL history, besting Jimmy Garoppolo’s five-year, $137.5 million deal.
The Vikings currently have an estimated $53.2 million in cap space, which would be more than enough to sign Cousins. However, this would severely handicap the Vikings’ efforts to re-sign current players such as Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs and Danielle Hunter. All three of these players are due large extensions and will be negotiating a deal with the team this offseason.
With Cousins taking up half of the Vikings’ available funds, keeping their current players will be much more difficult.
Concerns over Cousins
There hasn’t been a starting-caliber quarterback on the free agent market since Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts in 2012.
However, it is important to remember that Cousins is not Manning. After 14 years in Indy, Peyton Manning had established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks of this generation. Manning had broken passing records and led the Colts to two Super Bowl appearances and won one.
So far in his young career, Cousins has posted a 26-30-1 record, making the playoffs once. As the full-time starter in D.C., Cousins has thrown slightly above a 2-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and has surpassed 4,000 yards three straight seasons.
Cousins has proven himself in the NFL as a solid starting quarterback during his time with the Redskins. However, it is hard to argue that Cousins would be an improvement over Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater or Sam Bradford.
The Vikings are not broken
What separates the Minnesota Vikings from the other teams pursuing Cousins is that they already have talented quarterbacks on their roster. As discussed in our roster breakdown, the Vikings have an opportunity to keep at least one of their starting quarterbacks from 2017. All three of the Vikings’ quarterbacks have had success with the team at some point.
Teddy Bridgewater led Minnesota to the playoffs in 2015 before a gruesome knee injury. Sam Bradford finally lived up to his potential by completing over 70 percent of his passes in 2016. Case Keenum went from an unwanted free agent to a starting quarterback in the NFC Championship.
It would be difficult to argue that Cousins would be a major improvement from any of these three players. The Vikings would also save a large amount of money by simply re-signing one of their current quarterbacks.
Re-signing any of their current quarterbacks would cost at most $20 million per year, which is far cheaper than pursuing Kirk Cousins.
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