The bulk of the offseason is now in the rear view mirror as we make the final slow, tedious slog to the start of Training Camp and the 2018 NFL season. The Minnesota Vikings made some of the bigger moves of the offseason, that’s for sure. But how do executives around the National Football League view what the team has done since the new league year started in March?
Well, behind the great E$PN paywall lies a bit of insight towards answering that question. The four-letter went around and asked some random NFL execs to grade how all 32 teams did this offseason, and the Vikings got a solid “B” for their efforts. Now, while that doesn’t necessarily sound great on the surface, it’s worth noting that only two teams found themselves in the “A” range (the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, both of whom got an “A-”), and only two teams managed a “B+” (the Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens), so a “B” is actually a pretty darn fine score.
Naturally, the majority of the questions surrounding the Vikings center around their acquisition of quarterback Kirk Cousins. There were arguments on both sides of whether or not Cousins is the signing that puts the Vikings over the top. On the positive side, there was this take:
“They went out and said, ‘We’ve talked ourselves through the professional tape and Kirk Cousins makes more throws in more situations than Case Keenum, so he is going to give us that little nudge we need to win those games when the defense is not at its best,’” an exec said. “I believe he is capable of doing that. The rest is fit, and I’m not going to get into whether he’s aloof and what his teammates think of him and whether that is why [Redskins president] Bruce Allen didn’t like him and called him ‘Kurt’ during his press conferences.”
On the negative side, there was this:
“They still have Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs to pay, and then with Kirk, he is a good player, but he simply cannot finish games consistently,” an exec said. “He was not a finisher at Michigan State and he is not a finisher in the league.”
He’d better be closing if he wants the knife set. . .er, a Super Bowl ring.
To their credit, ESPN points out that Cousins is 4th in their QBR metric over the past three seasons in situations where his team is trailing by eight or more points midway through the fourth quarter, trailing only a group of guys named Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady. Now, Luck has been hurt, but Wilson and Brady are both known for having a bit of a knack for bringing their teams back in late-game situations. With the Vikings’ defense behind him, I wouldn’t imagine that there would be a lot of situations like that for Cousins to deal with in his first season in Minnesota, but if there are, it doesn’t appear that Cousins is as awful as the prevailing wisdom might lead you to believe.
The Cousins acquisition, and a brief discussion about the Vikings having to juggle their salary structure to extend some key players, makes up all of the discussion about the Vikings in the piece. No mention of the acquisition of Sheldon Richardson or anything concerning the draft.
What do you think of the grade that NFL executives gave the Vikings for their offseason work? Is a “B” grade too high? Too low? Right where it should be?