Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins is letting his new team down

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 10: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings looks at the scoreboard in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 10, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 10: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings looks at the scoreboard in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 10, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is failing to meet expectations in his first year with a new team. Should Minnesota fans be worried?

The recruiting process for Kirk Cousins before he ultimately signed with the Minnesota Vikings was quite the spectacle.

Everyone knows much of Cousins’ story at this point. He was drafted to be a backup, ended up becoming a pretty darn good starter in the NFL, and played his way to back-to-back franchise tags from the Redskins.

After two years of the franchise tag, the Redskins decided they weren’t going to invest in Cousins long-term and let him walk to free agency. Despite the fact that Cousins is not Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees or Tom Brady, it was widely expected he would have a very strong market in free agency.

So strong, in fact, that Cousins really had a unique opportunity to dictate the exact terms of his deal, which included almost all guaranteed money. He was also able to dictate the number of years in the contract so he could sign another monster contract down the road.

The Minnesota Vikings had the option of re-signing 2017 starter Case Keenum or their 2014 first-round draft pick Teddy Bridgewater at a much cheaper rate than Cousins, but their thought was that Cousins — if inserted into their lineup and surrounded by the crazy talent on their roster — would reach a new level of success in the NFL.

The Vikings abandoned caution a bit and gave in to Cousins’ demands, signing him to a three-year contract worth $84 million, 100 percent guaranteed at signing.

The only non-guarantees in Cousins’ contract are performance incentives that include a Super Bowl win and some offensive achievements for the team coupled with a Super Bowl win or Super Bowl MVP award.

It doesn’t appear 2018 is going to be the year Cousins reaches those incentives as the Vikings are now 6-6-1 following a disappointing Monday Night Football loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the hostile Seattle environment.

The loss to the Seahawks pushed Cousins all-time record as a starting quarterback to 4-23 against teams with a record above .500. That’s a staggering statistic and perhaps something the Vikings overlooked when studying Cousins’ box score statistics.

Cousins has the sixth-highest cap hit for a quarterback this season and is the highest paid player on the Vikings by far. He has the team ranked in the top 10 in passing yards and has a solid 24-9 touchdown to interception ratio so far this season.

With that said, the Vikings’ offense lacks balance, and they were completely owned by Seattle on Monday night. The Vikings rank 30th in the NFL in rushing yards and 31st in attempts.

The result of this lack of balance is a team needing a complete turnaround to make the postseason. It’s not that the Vikings’ star players are getting hurt, either. Cousins has had weapons at his disposal almost all year and the Vikings’ defense ranks 11th in scoring, fifth in yards allowed, and 11th in turnovers forced.

The defense seems to be doing its job over the course of the season but Cousins and the offense are not carrying their weight. When you pay $84 million guaranteed to a quarterback, the expectation is rightfully that that player would elevate the play of the rest of the team.

The truth of the matter is, the Vikings were playing better with Case Keenum on a $3 million contract last year than they are with Cousins making $24 million this year.

There’s nothing they can do about the move at this point except continuing to expect the best from Cousins. They can’t go back in time and re-sign Keenum for a fraction of the price. They can’t force Cousins to adhere to their contract demands because they have already given in.

The Vikings have plenty of time to ensure they didn’t make a mistake by signing Cousins, but how about starting off with a win against a team that has a record above .500? How about the offense showing up on the stage of Monday Night Football?

Cousins looked uncomfortable and late the entire game. He was missing open receivers. He wasn’t in rhythm. A quarterback with that kind of pay grade needs to be able to go into a tough road environment and at least give his team a chance to win.

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Cousins failed the Vikings on Monday night, and over the course of 13 games this season, it’s safe to say he’s not living up to the contract he signed.