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Scoggins: Elephant in the Vikings interview rooms wears No. 8

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Scoggins: Elephant in the Vikings interview rooms wears No. 8

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Virtual interviews for the Vikings general manager position continue this week. There is an elephant in these zooms, an enigma that hangs over the organization and cannot be put off to a later date.

It may not be the first question asked of applicants, but somewhere in the first half hour of these conversations between the search committee and GM hopefuls, the topic needs to be addressed.

The Kirk Cousins ​​Riddle.

What do you do?

Door 1: Exchange it.

Gate 2: Let him play his final season capped at $45 million.

Door 3: Extend your contract to lower your ceiling.

Each option carries risks. Each option carries the weight of dictating the way forward for the team. Each option will be unpopular with a segment of the fanbase as Cousins ​​has supplanted Joe Mauer as the most polarizing athlete in this sports market over the past 25 years.

My approach to dealing with this situation would be in the order listed above: swap cousins ​​if possible, knowing that this would weaken the team to its most important position in the short term. If a trade doesn’t materialize, let him play his final season in 2022, despite his heavy cap and with the team already projected $11 million above the salary cap.

Cousins’ contract has become an albatross on a list that includes a handful of individual stars, but also positional flaws that will require financial flexibility to correct. A cheaper alternative to the quarterback should be the leadership of the new regime. And yes, the Vikings could take a step back early by doing so.

This is the enigma.

Cousins’ salary and the high-stakes nature of this position make it incredibly complicated. Organizations fail all the time trying to find and develop a franchise quarterback. Rick Spielman’s tenure is proof of that. Moreover, we do not know the real priorities of the property in private.

In firing Spielman and Mike Zimmer, co-owner Mark Wilf said his family had no interest in a rebuild, with a stated goal of being “super-competitive” in 2022.

OK, but what constitutes a super-competitive? Is being a fringe team in the playoffs super competitive? Do they expect their team to be a legitimate contender in the playoffs?

Do the Wilfs see a roster that includes Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks, and Harrison Smith and conclude that Zimmer has retained the team? Or can they also see the obvious staff flaws that have helped propel the organization into a state of mediocrity?

Internal expectations could influence how the new general manager and head coach proceed. The Wilfs are fans at heart. They want to enjoy success.

The Vikings wouldn’t be as strong with Kellen Mond or a rookie at quarterback if the team traded Cousins. The team would likely sign a veteran “bridge” quarterback in this scenario until they identify their franchise quarterback, but it’s hard to imagine a new quarterback being able to immediately match the performance of Cousins.

Given the choice, any new coach would likely pick Cousins ​​over an unproven quarterback because Cousins ​​would give him the best chance of winning right away. Will the new coach and GM try to convince the Wilfs they can get the most out of Cousins ​​and the offense now that Zimmer’s restrictive leadership and Klint Kubiak’s inexperience are out? of the equation? May be.

The concern is that Cousins ​​doesn’t have more to give, we’ve seen their ceiling, and that’s not enough to lift the Vikings past an in-between team that occasionally makes the playoffs. He’s a good quarterback with impressive stats, but what evidence have we seen he can go beyond that?

Even if Cousins ​​signs a multi-year extension to relieve the cap, he will still receive a hefty salary, likely over $30 million. It will remain binding on a new regime that inherits an expensive to-do list to tackle one of the NFL’s worst defenses, an outdated interior offensive line and a gigantic payday for Jefferson looming in the future. horizon.

Vikings need to take a long view with Cousins ​​Conundrum. Be patient. The Wilfs initiated an organizational reset by removing Spielman and Zimmer. They have a more complicated step to complete this process.

Scoggins: Elephant in the Vikings interview rooms wears No. 8

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