Jim Souhan
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In 2022, Kirk Cousins posted his lowest quarterback rating as an NFL starter, and his lowest completion percentage as a Viking.

He also dramatically improved his stock among NFL quarterbacks.

How can that be true?

Because Cousins played well in the clutch, repeatedly, for the first time in his career, and led the Vikings to 13 victories, and a slew of top NFL quarterbacks imploded, slumped, moved and/or discovered hallucinogens.

One of the many difficult negotiations facing the Vikings this offseason involves Cousins. He has one year remaining on his contract, and with Tuesday's news of the Vikings and Cousins agreeing to new terms on his contract it's even more likely now he'll play out that last season. Tuesday's move frees up money under the salary cap, and the Vikings go forward now trying to win with him as their starter.

What is certain is that Cousins is the best he has ever been, he has been remarkably durable, the Vikings have no succession plan, and a lot of teams that thought they could win by changing quarterbacks proved that it's not as easy as it looks. Reminders of this, and more difficulties, were everywhere last fall:

Deshaun Watson stunk. Aaron Rodgers had his worst season ever. Russell Wilson embarrassed himself. Derek Carr got himself cut.

Mac Jones regressed. Tom Brady eased toward retirement. Carson Wentz wentzed. Dak Prescott threw the ball to the other team. Baker Mayfield continued to interrupt his acting career with bad passes.

Matt Ryan aged like boxed wine. Matthew Stafford played like a Lion. Kyler Murray played like a teenager.

In my own personal, subjective quarterback power rankings, I had Cousins as the 14th-best NFL quarterback entering the 2022 season.

He might have cut that ranking in half.

Today's question: How many quarterbacks would the Vikings feel good trading Cousins for, one-for-one?


1. Patrick Mahomes, who might be the greatest ever.

2. Joe Burrow. An ideal blend of skill and leadership.

3. Josh Allen. Had his struggles in 2022, but remains a top franchise quarterback.

4. Jalen Hurts. Might have been the NFL MVP had he remained healthy throughout the season.

5. Justin Herbert. Could be the next big thing, if the Chargers can surround him with a quality team.


1. Lamar Jackson is a former league MVP who has carried what has often been a nondescript team, but injuries and stalled negotiations have made him a risk.

2. Trevor Lawrence is beginning to fulfill his promise. A prototype in many ways, he's younger and more talented and might be a good bet.

3. Tua Tagovailoa had a strong statistical showing last season, but is small and hasn't been as durable as Cousins.

4. Rodgers is coming off a bad season, has become reclusive during offseasons, didn't work with his young teammates last summer and makes a massive amount of money. He's one of the greatest to ever play the position, but is there reason to believe he will regain his form?


1. Wentz is a lousy NFL quarterback.

2. Murray isn't trustworthy, as some of his teammates have said or hinted.

3. Jared Goff has played in a Super Bowl and helped elevate the Lions last year, but he's not better than Cousins, at least not at the moment.

4. Prescott damaged his stock with damaging interceptions last year when his team had a chance to make a run.

5. Stafford looked like he was playing for the Lions again last year.

6. Justin Fields might be a wonderful quarterback, but we won't know for sure until his team gives him an offense to work with and stops relying on his remarkable running ability.

7. Brock Purdy and Trey Lance could be great but have much to prove.

If Rodgers leaves the division, the Vikings will have the best quarterback in the NFC North for the first time in decades.

If Rodgers doesn't leave the division, the Vikings still might have the best quarterback in the NFC North. That's how much the league's quarterback rankings have changed in the last seven months.