J. Kapp 11 wrote: ↑
Fri Dec 04, 2020 10:50 am
S197 wrote: ↑
Thu Dec 03, 2020 8:00 pm
The reason Cousins cap hit is low this year is because they freed up cap space by extending him. Basically you can take the signing bonus portion of the contract and pro rate it over the duration of the contract. You're kicking the can down the road but you will be paying the piper eventually. This is why he has a $31M and $45M cap hit in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Essentially even if Cousins is on another team next year, the Vikings are on the hook for $41M in dead cap over the next two years. I don't know that it's fair to contemplate his cap this year when there's a huge overhang like that which the Vikings cannot get out from under. It's very similar to the situation in NO where they will likely be paying Brees long after he's gone.
I took a deeper dive into the stats. Here's where Cousins ranks in the league:
Passing yards: 15th
Passing TD's: 9th
Passer Rating: 8th
Interceptions: 31st (tied)
Completion %: 12th
This is Tannehill for comparison since he's being brought up:
Passing yards: 18th
Passing TD's: 8th
Passer Rating: 6th
Completion %: 22nd
Tannehill also leads the league with 5 game-winning drives, which I think is also pretty significant.
I don't like to get overly wrapped up in stats because there's a lot of nuance that goes behind them. But I think over an extended period it provides some dimension. Cousins trajectory is improving but is that because it's a softer part of the schedule or is it actual improvement? We'll need to wait and see. I personally don't think he's lived up to the cost the Vikings are paying and that price gets exponentially steeper. In any case, we're all along for the ride because he isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
I have to disagree with the cap assessment.
It's completely fair to contemplate his cap hit for this year because we're IN this year. Next year and 2022 aren't here yet. There are a ton of factors we don't know yet. For example, we don't know what the league-wide cap situation will bring. We also don't know what other veterans the Vikings will decide to keep or cut.
So let's look at next year, keeping in mind that we're speculating here. Cousins' $31 million cap hit will rank 9th in the NFL unless somebody signs for more. Say what you want, but from a comparative standpoint, that's not overpaying for a QB who hits 70% of his passes and leads the league in YPA.
And for the record, Tannehill does not have 5 game-winning drives. He has 3. He also has two fourth-quarter comebacks, which are part of those game-winning drives. Cousins has 2 and 1, so the difference isn't astronomical. Beyond that, they're similar players. Both have incredible running backs behind them, and both rely on those running backs to provide not only a lot of offense, but the threat of a lot of offense. Their stats are similar except that Cousins' completion percentage and YPA are higher. On the other hand, so is his INT percentage, and he has to own that.
Why the improvement? PHP and I have been beating the drum. His name is Ezra Cleveland. We've all said that if you give Cousins some time, he will thrive. If you turn him into Patrick Mahomes and force him to scramble, he's going to flounder. Go back to the Green Bay game, when Cleveland was inserted at right guard. Since that time, he's been sacked exactly half as often as he was in the first six games. We're giving him time to throw. That includes the game against the Bears, who rush the passer really well. As a result, Kirk is lighting it up at a 124 passer rating with only 1 INT on a bobble by Thielen. Since Cleveland's insertion, our O-line has actually become a strength. When was the last time we said that in Minnesota? And guess what? When Cleveland has been out with injury, we haven't been as good.
Bottom line, if Cousins plays the rest of the season like he has the past 5 games (big IF, I realize) then how on earth is he not worth the $31 million next year? Let's remove our personal biases against the guy and look at what he does. Again, we've all said, "Give him an O-line. Give him weapons." Well, he has those now. No excuses. Let's see how he does going forward. Early returns are promising.
That leaves the massive $45 million cap hit in 2022, which is projected to be the highest in the league (even higher than Patrick Mahomes' 2022 salary, and he signed the richest contract in league history). That's something the Vikings will have to deal with. But again, there are factors we simply can't see right now. For example, if the NFL rebounds and the cap jumps to, say, $210 million or $220 million, then it becomes more do-able. If it drops to $175 million next year and doesn't rebound, then we've got a problem.
Yes, a good organization projects its long-term financial future. But it's only a projection. My wife is CFO of a large company. She does projections all the time, and she's very good at it. But she will also tell you that for every major factor to the bottom line, there are dozens of other contributing factors that can move the needle either way. Some of those factors are impossible to predict, so you plan for best- and worst-case scenarios. I guarantee you, Rob Brzezinski has already done that, and he'll re-do it many times before 2022 arrives.