Former NFL GM Rips Kirk Cousins for Holding the Vikings Hostage

Kirk Cousins is one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in the NFL today. Assessing the numbers alone, he’s a pretty solid quarterback. However, he’s only reached the playoffs twice as a starter, with just one win under his belt. Naturally, people start to question how good the Minnesota Vikings signal-caller really is.

Former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum believes new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell should temper their expectations. He suggests Cousins will have his moments but won’t be enough to carry the franchise every week.

Instead, Tannenbaum argues the three-time Pro Bowler is simply the best option available.

Former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum blasts Kirk Cousins

The Minnesota Vikings recently made Kirk Cousins a happy man, signing him to a lucrative one-year contract extension. According to ESPN‘s Adam Schefter, the deal extends the Michigan State product through the 2023 season. Cousins gets a raise, making $40 million in 2022 and $30 million in 2023.

While the veteran seemingly has the best agent in the business, several reasons exist as to why Cousins got such a hefty contract. Mike Tannenbaum has a theory on the front office’s confidence level in the move. He shared his thoughts during a recent appearance on The Rich Eisen Show.

“I think there has to be a belief that Kevin O’Connell feels like, ‘Hey, we can go win multiple games with Kirk Cousins.’ If I sign him to a one-year extension, that gives me a couple of drafts to get my footing as a head coach to draft his replacement. I don’t think you can win with Cousins, especially in the NFC.”

Tannebaum suggests the NFC features plenty of elite-caliber quarterbacks, and Cousins isn’t one of them.

“You think about Stafford, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Rodgers, Brady. He’s at best, maybe sixth or seventh best quarterback. I think you’re just signing up for more mediocrity.”

The Vikings didn’t have a surefire better option than the veteran QB

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins looks down during game against the Bears
Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings reacts while facing the Chicago Bears | Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Mike Tannebaum believes he’s seen enough of Kirk Cousins over the years to adamantly argue he’ll be a disappointment in 2022. However, he thinks the Vikings front office wanted to make Kevin O’Connell’s first season as head coach go as smoothly as possible.

The former NFL executive weighed in on Minnesota giving Cousins a pay raise despite him not being an elite-caliber quarterback.

“It’s a supply and demand with quarterbacks,” said Tannenbaum. “If Mitch Trubisky and Jameis Winston were in this year’s draft, they would be the first quarterbacks taken. Kirk Cousins is somewhere in the middle. That’s what $35 million gets you. It gets you mediocrity. But the inverse is if you don’t have him, do you have any hope whatsoever?”

Tannenbaum’s theory makes sense. If the Vikings opted not to pay the 33-year-old quarterback what he and his agent were asking for and let him walk, the alternative would likely be a downgrade.

“If we let him leave, we’re gonna be looking at the Mitch Trubisky’s, the Marcus Mariota’s of the world, Sam Howell from North Carolina, and that group of quarterbacks. While there are 32 teams, there just aren’t 32 quarterbacks.”

How Cousins can prove the doubters wrong in 2022

Kirk Cousins has gotten a lot of criticism over the years. Over the past few years, he’s put up some solid numbers for most of the regular season. However, he hasn’t been able to elevate his game down the stretch.

Despite the knocks, Cousins is more than capable of putting up big numbers week in and week out. He threw for 4,221 yards, 33 touchdowns, and seven interceptions in 2021. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 88.2 on the season. Unfortunately, he nor the rest of the Vikings were good enough in the final weeks.

Minnesota finished with an 8-9 record and missed the playoffs. Now that Cousins has signed his extension, he’s not just looking to make the playoffs. He has his sights set on the Lombardi Trophy.

On paper, the Vikings aren’t a Super Bowl contender. Still, the 11th-year quarterback will have an opportunity to silence many doubters. Cousins can make all the throws, but he needs to make them in big moments. With a talented offense featuring Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook, Minnesota could be in many close games.

Kirk Cousins may have been the best option available, but he needs to show and prove at some point.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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