Vikings’ 2022 season in review: assessing the play of Kirk Cousins

The Minnesota Vikings are something of an enigma heading into the 2023 season, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After holding one of the NFL’s best records for the better part of the 2022 season, they floundered in the playoffs, losing to the upstart New York Giants due in no small part to the play of Kirk Cousins, who went cold in the fourth quarter.

Cousins has proven to be a rock-solid regular season signal caller in Minneapolis but is known to be a bit inconsistent when the lights shine the brightest. In a league where playoff wins and Super Bowl championships, mean more than anything else, the Vikings’ quarterback hasn’t yet shown that he can get the job done in January or February.

Ahead of the 2023 season, Minnesota will have some crucial decisions to make about their future at the position, despite the fact that Cousins is functionally un-cuttable on his fully guaranteed contract.

Here is a look at the state of the Vikings’ quarterback position ahead of free agency.

Raw stats: Cousins' dominance overshadowed by first-round playoff exit

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After starting in all of Minnesota’s 17 regular season games in 2022, Cousins led the team to 13 wins and passed for more than 4,500 yards en route to the second seed in the NFC playoffs. His 29 touchdowns were an impressive feat, and enough to tie for fourth in the league. He also managed to lead the NFL in fourth-quarter comebacks with eight over the course of the year.

Cousins was incredibly clutch at times and pulled out some gritty wins against talented opponents, including the Buffalo Bills in overtime in Week 10. His regular season performance was impressive to be sure, though his 14 interceptions thrown and 10.7 yards per completion were among the worst marks over his career in those categories.

All in all, this season wasn’t a total loss for the 11th-year quarterback, but without anything to show for it in the playoffs, it is fair to say that he left something to be desired. He was far from a liability against the Giants in the Wild Card game, but ultimately didn’t do enough late in the game to lift Minnesota to the next round. His job is likely secure for 2023.

Vikings offseason: should the quarterback position fit into Minnesota's offseason plans?

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There can be no doubt that the end of the Vikings’ 2022 season was frustrating, but it still seems unlikely that they will address the quarterback position in a meaningful way in the coming months despite Cousins’ playoff shortcomings. He played well enough, despite the loss to a team many saw as inferior to Minnesota, and would cost the Vikings an ungodly amount of money if they were to trade or cut him.

However, given that Cousins will be 35 yars old next season and the lack team’s lack of a backup currently under contract heading into free agency, the quarterback position shouldn’t be an afterthought in the offseason. They will likely look to strike a deal with a veteran to fill the role, but shouldn’t discount the idea of looking to a younger option in the draft after the first round of selections.

Their salary cap situation could play a role in this calculus, and depending on the market conditions in free agency, a developmental rookie could end up being the most viable option for both their finances and the future of the organization.

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Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire