Few players have uttered something as memorable as Kirk Cousins. In the midst of his rise as part of the Washington Football Team franchise, he looked at the camera and screamed, “you like that!?” It was a young quarterback who was feeling pumped, but it’s become a near consummate meme. Also, probably the first thing you think of when it comes to Cousins.
Part of that stems from it being an iconic moment. But part of it stems from the fact that it’s probably the biggest professional accomplishment for Cousins in nine professional seasons. It’s not that Cousins hasn’t been a solid starter in the NFL—he has. He’s also earned four lucrative contracts in the last five seasons. It’s just that his infamous quote is probably the most enduring piece of his competitive legacy, which has included just three playoff games and one playoff win.
The Vikings making a surprise selection in the third round in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll be the face of that franchise.
Cousins was originally selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by Washington and then-coach Mike Shanahan. While an interesting prospect out of Michigan State, Cousins wasn’t the headliner in the draft, or even on his team. He wasn’t even the first quarterback taken by Washington, which drafted Robert Griffin III at the top of the first round. So, Cousins came in as a backup.
Cousins wasn’t much of a factor his first three professional seasons. He only started nine games and went 2-7 over those three years. He finally got his chance to start in 2015. Cousins made the most of it, guiding Washington to the playoffs and a 9-7 record. It was enough to convince the franchise to give him the Franchise Tag that off-season. Cousins earned the Franchise Tag his final two years in Washington, going 15-16-1 during those two seasons. But his frustration with management boiled over, heading into the 2018 season; he became a coveted free agent.
Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million deal. It was fully guaranteed, and a huge haul meant to propel the Vikings to the next level following a season where Case Keenum had taken them to the NFC Championship Game. In his first season in Minnesota, Cousins threw for 4,298 yards and 30 TDs. But the team went 8-7-1 and missed the playoffs.
In his second season in Minnesota, Cousins threw for fewer yards (3,603) and TDs (26), but the team went 10-5 in his 15 starts, making the playoffs. The Vikings and Cousins knocked out Drew Brees and the Saints in the Wild Card game, advancing to the Division Round, where the team lost. It was Cousins’ first playoff win, creating optimism heading into 2020. But the Vikings were flat to start, falling too far behind and ending the season at 7-9, out of the playoffs.
Despite only making the post-season in one of his three seasons in Minnesota, the Vikings doubled down, re-signing Cousins to a two-year, $66 million extension that begins with the 2021 season. It seemed to be an indication the team was tying itself to the veteran quarterback.
But for how long?
A New Mond in Town
With the second pick in the third round and the team’s second pick in the draft overall, the Vikings selected Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond. Mond played four years for the Aggies, throwing for 9,661 yards and 71 TDs. He also added 1,609 rushing yards and 22 more TDs. That represents a slightly different skillset from Cousins, who has run for only 721 yards in nine professional seasons.
While not quite at the same level as the Green Bay Packers taking Jordan Love in the 2020 NFL Draft, the selection raised a few eyebrows. On the one hand, the Vikings could use better options behind Cousins, who has only missed one start in three seasons. On the other hand, Mond was an intriguing prospect that some believed could go as high as the First Round in the draft. It could also be an indication that the team is looking toward the future.
Cousins isn’t going anywhere in 2021 and likely not in 2022, either. He carries a dead cap hit of $76 million in 2021 and $45 million in 2022. In addition, the Vikings seem poised to win, or at least compete, now. And Cousins figures to continue to be a solid QB2 with upside for fantasy. Cousins has finished as QB13, QB18, and Q11 in his three years with the Vikings. But what about in Dynasty and C2C formats?
Cousins has been 25-21-1 as a starter with the Vikings, and the team made the playoffs only once in three years. Perhaps the next two years can change that, perhaps not. Either way, it feels like the selection of Mond was a sign of long-term things to come. Cousins dropped for me in long-term formats, while Mond is a player I like grabbing at the end of Superflex rookie drafts. I don’t expect anything in 2021, but to me, it’s worth a late-round grab for the potential.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.