As we all know, Zimmer wants his team to be built on defense and the running game. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with that. Seattle won a Super Bowl doing that. New England did it, too, although it could be said that the short passing game to the RBs was really the running game. It can be done.
Here's the problem, as outlined brilliantly by ESPN's Bill Barnwell:
Honestly, this is exactly how I feel after 7 years of Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman. My issue isn't that he's a defense-and-running-game coach. My problem is that the Vikings don't spend money that way.Commit to your philosophy. One of the most puzzling and frustrating struggles in the league is in Minnesota. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has publicly insisted that his team’s focus is on running the football, even to the extent of firing offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. At the same time, the Vikings have had a pair of star receivers on their roster in Adam Thielen and either Stefon Diggs or Justin Jefferson. More notably, they’ve spent $84 million on Kirk Cousins over the past three years and will pay the veteran $64 million more between 2022 and 2023.
If a team wants to build around its running game, that’s fine. Doing that and paying a quarterback $148 million over five years just seems counterintuitive.
It's even worse when you consider the COMBINED contracts of Kirk Cousins AND Dalvin Cook. In 2022, Cousins and Cook will combine for $57 million against the cap — that's 30 PERCENT of the projected cap for that season!
It just doesn't work.
Want proof? Since 2011, only 13 teams have allocated at least 17.5% of their total salary cap to their QB1 and RB1, per Sharp Analysis. In other words, it’s a rarity for a team to be built with that much cap dedicated to two positions that often run independently from each other in the offense.
It’s even rarer to find success with this model. Of those 13 teams:
– Their average record was 7-9.
– Ten of the 13 teams ended up with losing records.
– Three teams made the playoffs, posting a 1-3 combined record.
Remember last year when I was against giving Dalvin Cook a big contract? I kept telling you guys that I didn't have anything against Cook. I love Dalvin Cook. He's the best back in the NFL, IMO. But to pay BOTH him AND Cousins? It just doesn't make sense. I didn't really realize it at the time, but THIS is what I was against. If you're going to pay Cousins, then pay the personnel he needs to have around him. Receivers and depth at receiver, offensive linemen, etc. Don't have the highest-paid quarterback AND one of the highest-paid running backs. It doesn't make sense.
In 2022, the average TEAM salary for the running back position will be $6 million. Dalvin Cook will make double that. Meanwhile, Kirk D. Cousins will have THE highest cap hit in the NFL at $45 million. How on earth can we build a team with that kind of salary situation?
That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.