What we learned about the status of Cousins, Cook, Diggs from Spielman at the Combine
The big story yesterday coming from Vikings general manager Rick Spielman’s presser was his comments on the squeakiest wheel on the Vikings ship-mobile, Stefon Diggs. While I covered that news yesterday, I thought I’d quickly go through some of his comments on other Vikings players whose contracts are either up or soon to be up for an extension.
Now, don’t get your hopes up too high as Spielman literally said: “From a business side not going to talk about anything on contract negotiations or what we’re doing”.
But, he still commented on a few players and considering that it’s mid-to-late February, we’re gonna have to make some logical leaps and connect some dots.
Luckily for no one, this is why I’m paid the opposite of the big bucks!
Kirk Cousins, of course.
Cousins is entering the final year of his three-year deal. Now, before Diggs became the topic de jour, nearly every all caps post by Vikings fans was about Cousins. He may very well be the most divisive player to ever wear purple and gold, and while that makes sense on the internet where people have no control over the outcome of team decisions (individually, at least), people like Spielman have to operate in the reality.
That reality is that the Vikings are going to be looking for a back-up quarterback this off-season, which should reinforce the point that the Vikings have zero options outside of Captain Kirk. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you, like me, think that with proper (or even average) protection, Cousins can get this team to the promised land.
Spielman seemingly agrees with me, saying of Cousins at the combine:
“His accuracy is second to none, I believe, in this league when he has time in the pocket”
Hmm… Sounds so familiar I can taste my own Red Bull breath.
“Not short [just], or intermediate throws, also when he throws down the field.”
Spielman also brought up the Saints playoff/overtime game as an example to disprove the notion that Cousins crumbles under pressure, at least that kind of pressure. The reality is, though, that this Vikings team under Zimmer has yet to solve the offensive line problem they’ve created and perpetuated by not investing in the line (until recently, which seems to be too little, too late).
However, Spielman did say:
“I give a lot of credit to Zimmer and Kubiak, putting him in situations to have success.”
I believe that Kubiak will be the answer this team needs on offense, so, I hope that this final quote proves to be true this time next year. Well, second to last quote:
“I think it’s even going to go farther next year being in the same system.”
On Dalvin, the arguably more arduous of the two major decisions this team needs to make before the end of the 2020 season (for players, I mean, since both head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman also have to renew their contracts after this season), I’ll be quick.
“Usually we do not look at extensions until after we get through the draft, but I consider Dalvin as one of those core group of players that we definitely want to try to keep.”
Stop the presses!
Yeah, this is so typical of a statement by a GM at this point in a star players’ contract renewal phase that an AI program that only had access to coach and NFL Executive Speak from interviews on ESPN and NFL Network could’ve made it.
The case with Cook isn’t as cut and dry and his comment implies, though. Cook is no doubt one of the best running backs in the entire NFL. He’s a monster when healthy, and showed in 2019 that he is as good (if not better) than other elite backs like Ezekiel Elliot or Saquon Barkley.
The issue with Cook is that he’s yet to play a full 16-game season in his three-year career. He missed 16 of his first 32 games, and while he looked to have finally gotten over his injury issues for the majority of 2019, he ended the season with a chest injury that limited his ability to contribute.
Should we be happy that the injuries were in different areas (an ACL/knee, a hammy, and a chest/shoulder/collar bone injury?)? Or should we be concerned?
As we all know, running backs with injury issues don’t solve them as they get older and amass more carries/touches. Thankfully the Vikings have a poor man’s Dalvin in second-year guy Alexander Mattison, but that means that the Vikes may limit Cook’s touches to keep him healthy, which’d make it hard to justify the max deal he is going to get.
This one is hard and makes me glad I’m not in charge. Of anything. Clearly.