Despite Mike Zimmer's recent comments about the Vikings' commitment to Kirk Cousins, Minnesota general manager Rick Speilman was asked about his quarterback's status with the franchise during a recent media session. Reports have continued to surface regarding the Vikings and Cousins, who has two years remaining under his current contract.
Speilman made it clear that the team is sticking with Cousins, a two-time Pro Bowler who threw a career-high 35 touchdowns in 2020.
"Kirk Cousins is our quarterback," Speilman said. "I know there's a lot of rumors floating around out there, but Kirk Cousins is our quarterback. We felt that he played very well, probably the best he's ever played down that stretch last year and the way he played.
"Kirk's our quarterback going forward. Look forward to him [having] another year in this system. Excited for him and what he's going to bring to our team next year."
Cousins' individual numbers with the Vikings are impressive. During his first three years in Minnesota, Cousins averaged 4,055 yards, 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions per season. He completed a career-high 70.1% of his passes in 2018, his first year with the Vikings. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2019 while helping the Vikings advance to the divisional round of the playoffs. In 2020, Cousins threw for 4,265 yards, his highest total since 2016.
While Cousins' stats are impressive, his critics point to his pedestrian 25-21-1 record as Minnesota's starter. The Vikings went 8-7-1 during Cousins' first season a year after advancing to the NFC title game. After a playoff season in 2019, Minnesota was 7-9 in 2020. And while Cousins does deserve some of the blame for the team's shortcomings last season, the Vikings' defense was the main reason why Minnesota suffered its first losing season since 2014. The Vikings' defense finished 29th in the NFL in scoring, 25th in passing and 27th in rushing. Improving their pass rush is among the Vikings' biggest offseason objectives. The Vikings will also have to strengthen their offensive line, specifically their guards.
Cousins' success in 2020 is more impressive considering that the Vikings traded Stefon Diggs last offseason. With Diggs gone, Cousins developed a quick rapport with rookie Justin Jefferson, who earned Pro Bowl honors after catching 88 passes for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. Cousins and Jefferson were complemented by Dalvin Cook, who finished second in the league with 1,557 rushing yards despite missing a game.
While the Vikings have several holes to address this offseason, they have made it clear that the quarterback position is not one of them.
"Kirk's our guy," Zimmer said on the NFL Network earlier this month. "You know, he had a terrific year this year. We were fourth in the league on offense. We have to get better on defense -- we had a lot of injuries and young guys -- that's my job to get it fixed."