One Twitter user predicted, “This is not gonna end well for you,” and for the most part, that person was correct. When Kirk Cousins asked Vikings supporters Tuesday what he should hand out to a lucky recipient, he set himself up for a torrent of snarky responses from a justifiably frustrated fan base.
In response to his question, “What do you want me to giveaway?” many answered, “Your contract.”
That was a rueful, or outright bitter, reference to the mammoth, unprecedented deal Cousins signed in free agency last year, after parting ways with the Redskins. The Vikings lured the quarterback, then 29, to Minnesota with a three-year, $84 million offer, all of which was fully guaranteed.
Suffice it to say that, at least in Year 1, Cousins didn’t quite live up to the billing — or the bill for his services. Brought in to be the final piece to the team’s Super Bowl puzzle, after it made the NFC championship game the season before, Cousins instead presided over a campaign in which the Vikings went 8-7-1 and missed the playoffs, losing five of their final nine games along the way.
Thus the steady stream of replies Tuesday to Cousins that happened to mention the giant pile o’ cash coming his way. Here is a sampling:
- “How about $84 million dollars?”
- “Why don’t you just give back some of our 84 million”
- “Can you just give back like $15 mill?”
- “3/4 of your contract”
- “Some cap space.”
- “You can give away the money the vikes wasted”
- “GIVE BACK HALF YOUR SALARY SO WE CAN RESIGN [Sheldon Richardson] AND [Anthony Barr]”
- “If you could retire and return the Vikings their money, that would be great”
In his tweet, Cousins set up a poll and listed a few options, including a signed jersey, football or mini-helmet. He also listed the option of “Other,” and plenty of respondents were only too happy to let him know exactly what they’d like to get from him.
“A TD drive to the end zone,” one Twitter user wrote. “Give us ONE playoff win,” another said, while someone asked, “How about giving them Case Keenum back?”
In fairness, not all of the replies had a negative tone. The option of a signed jersey easily won the poll, and many let Cousins know how excited they would be to receive that item.
Others asked for a Super Bowl win, something no quarterback has given Vikings fans, despite the team making it to the game four times between 1970 and 1977. Since then, Minnesota has had numerous trips to the playoffs that ended in all sorts of painful ways, including six losing appearances in the NFC championship game, the last a 2018 shellacking at the hands of the Eagles that prevented the Vikings from becoming the first team to play in the Super Bowl on its home field.
Little wonder, then, that before the following season, Yahoo Sports named the Vikings as the proud owners of the “most tortured” fan base in the NFL. Then along came Cousins, and yet more angst.
As was his wont in Washington, Cousins put up some superficially solid statistics in Minnesota, finishing 10th in passing yards and passer rating, ninth in touchdown passes and second in completion percentage. But he again seemed to find a way to come up small in the biggest moments, and by the end of the season he’d upped his career mark to 25 losses in 29 starts against opponents with winning records.
It didn’t help Cousins’s cause that he was playing behind an iffy offensive line and had to make do without star running back Dalvin Cook for a large part of the season. However, the services of a stellar receiving corps were not enough to prevent Cousins from dropping off sharply in the second half of the season in his play under pressure, as he fell from a 91.5 rating under pressure in Weeks 1-9 to a mark of 69.5 in Weeks 11-17, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The newspaper also pointed out that Cousins’s 17 turnovers were the third-most among NFL quarterbacks last season, and his eight turnovers in fourth-quarter or overtime situations tied for the league lead. He also was unable to complete any second-half rallies, going 0-7-1 with the Vikings when tied or trailing after two quarters.
The capper on the Vikings’ disappointing season was a desultory home loss to the Bears in Week 17 that knocked Minnesota out of the playoffs. After Cousins led his team to just 10 points in that game while throwing for a mere 132 yards and taking four sacks, noted NFL writers such as Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report and Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports didn’t hesitate to label him a high-priced “bust.”
“There’s a reason people like me have been critical all year of Vikings QB Kirk Cousins — and of the Vikings’ decision to sign him for $84 million in guaranteed money during the offseason,” Freeman wrote. “It’s because the Cousins we saw Sunday is the one we saw for six long seasons in Washington.”
The good news, in case any Vikings fans are ion the mood to hear it, is that Cousins still has two more years to make good on his deal, and the Vikings will have the offseason to review his film and figure out how to better construct an offense around his skill set.
In the meantime, giveaways of signed jerseys are nice, but Cousins might also be well-served to think outside the box a bit, in terms of how to keep fans excited. One respondent to his Twitter poll had just the idea: “Give people a ride in your minivan.”
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