Kirk Cousins Can Solidify Himself as a Legend in Minnesota

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Minnesota
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Unseating Fran Tarkenton isn’t happening. Or, at the very least, it’s a near impossibility.

Scramblin’ Fran led the Vikings through their most dominant stretch of football, helping his team get to several Super Bowls. Peeling back the QB curtain even a little bit, though, leaves one with the distinct impression that Kirk Cousins can easily snag the silver medal.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) smiles with teammates prior to their game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

After all, the controversial QB has attained an exemplary position in team history for his statistical achievements.

Already, Cousins finds himself at 3rd in franchise history for passing yards. If we eliminate the players who only tossed a single pass, Cousins is in 3rd for completion percentage. His touchdown passes are in 2nd and his QB wins are similarly in 3rd.

What happens if we can partner the impressive statistical totals – always Cousins’ forte – with a few more seasons of winning football? Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said at the NFL Scouting Combine that he thinks the veteran passer can lead Minnesota to a Super Bowl. What if Cousins is the one to finally get the Vikings over the hump?

Kirk Cousins and Being a Living Legend in Minnesota

Lately, Kirk Cousins has enjoyed being the Minnesota Vikings’ QB1.

The evidence is everywhere. We see it when he does a duet alongside Kelly Clarkson and when he forms a dance duo with Cameron Jordan. We see it when he yells profanity in a training camp practice against the 49ers and when he dances shirtless with bling around his neck. We see it when he blows the Gjallarhorn alongside his son. We see it when he gets a grill and posts about not being able to pay with Kohl’s Cash.

All of these moments coalesce to form a clear picture: Kirk Cousins has become increasingly comfortable in his role as the face of the Vikings’ franchise. The manifestation of that reality gets seen in the moments when he leans into his goofy, oddball, charming self.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) sounds the gjallarhorn before the game against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Would any of that have been possible back in 2018?

At that time, Cousins was marketed as the missing link, so to speak, in a roster that was ready to bring a Lombardi to The Gopher State. Mike Zimmer’s dominant defense got figured out in the NFC Championship Game but finally onboarding a true top-tier passer would be enough to run roughshod on the NFC in 2018.

What actually occurred – an 8-7-1 record and missing out on the postseason – wasn’t anyone’s idea of success.

Cousins and Zimmer found a way of co-existing, but the relationship always seemed clunky. One of the stranger moments in their time together was when Cousins grabbed Zimmer after a victory and got into the head coach’s face. Zimmer, never one to back down, pushed back (literally). The real motivations behind the seemingly tense moment aren’t entirely certain but it’s safe to say that Khaki Kirk has never participated in such a strange exchange with Kevin O’Connell.

A Look at the Lions in Week 14
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) gets instrucyion from head coach Kevin O’Connell in the first quarter game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Instead, the brainy QB seems like a wonderful fit for the cerebral HC. O’Connell, a QB by trade, needs a sharp-as-a-tack quarterback with an accurate arm for his offense to take flight. Cousins exists as one of the best fits out there.

Signing elsewhere is possible. Cousins is a very good quarterback and an elite negotiator. Quite possibly, the man will convince a team to back up the Brinks truck.

Ongoing employment in Minnesota, though, will afford Mr. Cousins with certain luxuries beyond landing a monstrous payday. He has become a cherished figure in the state, so actively choosing Minnesota when other options exist will further solidify his popularity. And then there’s the chance to continue refining his craft under the same play caller, someone with whom Cousins has developed a strong rapport (which is to say nothing of the new QB coach).

Kirk Cousins Will Be a Main Feature in a Netflix Docu-Series
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

And then there’s the final possibility: getting the Vikings to the Super Bowl. Truth be told, Minnesota appears pretty far away from the ultimate prize and yet the path isn’t an outright impossibility. Having Justin Jefferson inspires no shortage of hope, and so too does having Brian Flores calling the shots on defense give Minnesota improved odds of winning. Does the presence of Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, Christian Darrisaw, Brian O’Neill, Josh Metellus, Ivan Pace, and several other exemplary players enhance the likelihood of successfully climbing Mount Lombardi?

Seeing Cousins keep improving — something I believe will happen — won’t be surprising. His greatest asset has always been his brain, so an achy Achilles won’t undermine his greatest gift. Can that QB improvement coincide with a roster alchemy that somehow leads to a golden opportunity to win a Super Bowl?

Minnesota is sitting on roughly $39 million in cap space. Crucially, extending Kirk Cousins could lead to more cap space in the current budget.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.