Were the Vikings forced into signing Kirk Cousins in 2018?

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins /

Whose decision was it for the Minnesota Vikings to sign Kirk Cousins?

When Kirk Cousins and the rest of the Minnesota Vikings were struggling during the early part of the 2020 season, we reminded everyone of some comments made by Mike Zimmer in 2018 when he made it clear that he didn’t want the team to invest a large amount of money in a free-agent quarterback.

Zimmer’s comments certainly suggested that he wasn’t thrilled about the Vikings working on a lucrative deal to land Cousins in free agency. Instead, the Minnesota head coach wanted to continue building his roster like the team had during his first few years with the franchise by adding talent through the draft and spreading out their spending money on a variety of free agents.

But the Vikings went ahead and signed Cousins in 2018 anyway to a historic contract that included $84 million in fully guaranteed money.

Did ownership play a part in the Minnesota Vikings signing Kirk Cousins?

During Zimmer’s tenure as Minnesota’s head coach, Vikings ownership has been pretty hands-off when it comes to picking which players should be a part of the team’s roster each season.

However, in the past, Minnesota’s owners have approved of some decisions that appeared to be heavily influenced by the notoriety that these moves would give the franchise.

The signing of Brett Favre, trading for Randy Moss, and signing Josh Freeman are some of the most memorable decisions that received Vikings ownership approval during their first few years with the team. Favre was a success for only one of his two seasons in Minnesota and the other two decisions wound up turning into complete disasters.

With Zimmer’s comments about signing a high-priced free agent in 2018 and a recently revealing Twitter post by former Minnesota defensive end Everson Griffen, questioning if the team’s ownership heavily influenced the signing of Cousins is totally fair.

It’s hard to blame Vikings ownership for this decision though. They saw Cousins as a missing piece for a team that finished one game short of the Super Bowl in 2017 and the cost of acquiring him was not going to be an issue.

For as much as Zimmer complained about dumping a bunch of money into one player back in 2018, however, he probably just didn’t view Cousins as the quarterback that could get Minnesota over the hump. His teams had success with mid-level signal-callers like Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum, so he likely didn’t feel that signing Cousins would be the thing that delivered the Vikings their first-ever Super Bowl win.

So what role did Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman play in the Cousins signing? Spielman probably agreed with Zimmer’s thoughts about not investing a ton of money into one player. Still, he also knew that he wasn’t going to be able to convince Vikings ownership that signing Cousins wasn’t going to make much of a difference.

None of this is to say that Cousins hasn’t performed well during his time in Minnesota, because he has. But as one can clearly see from the Vikings only having one playoff appearance in his three seasons with the franchise, a quarterback performing at a high-level isn’t exactly vital to the strategies that Zimmer has been using to keep the team competitive each and every year.

With the tremendously bad performance of Minnesota’s depleted defense in 2020, will Vikings ownership allow Zimmer and Spielman to get back to putting the majority of the team’s focus back into improving the defensive side of the ball since that is the method that has produced the most success for the franchise during the last few seasons?