Vikings fans whining about Kirk Cousins need to stop. Now.
ST. PAUL — Vikings fans whining about how their team has forsaken Case Keenum for a more expensive quarterback, stop right now. Your team has added the player they believe will push them back into the Super Bowl for the first time since 1977.
I happen to agree, but that is almost beside the point.
General manager Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer pushed all their chips to the center of the table, and you should be pee-your-pants excited for next season.
It isn't often a Minnesota team beats a big-market team like the New York Jets for the best available free agent in any sport, let alone football. Additionally, Kirk Cousins isn't just the best available free-agent quarterback this spring, he's the best free-agent quarterback since Brett Favre and Peyton Manning switched teams in 2008 and 2013, respectively.
This isn't to put Cousins is in that league quite yet, but he compares favorably to the best quarterback available after the 2005 season, a guy named Drew Brees, who after going 30-28 with 12,348 yards, 80 touchdowns and 53 interceptions in five seasons in San Diego signed with New Orleans. Three years later, he beat Favre and Minnesota in the NFC title game on the way to the Saints' first Super Bowl title.
There's your template.
The Vikings are the NFL's "it" team, with the league's best defense and a shiny new quarterback who not only can see over his offensive line but has passed for more than 4,000 yards in each of three as the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback. The covers of all the preseason magazines will be purple.
Much can happen, of course, and the Vikings seem to have a penchant for signing quarterbacks whose knees are one awkward step from exploding, but Spielman has made the bold purchase at the right time.
Cousins' numbers in six seasons in Washington, the past three as a starter, are as good as those of young Drew Brees. While his record is under .500 (26-30-1), he has passed for 16,206 yards, 99 touchdowns and 55 interceptions while completing more of his passes (65.5 percent to young Brees' 62.2).
The Vikings made a brief, and perhaps cursory, run at wresting Brees from New Orleans on Monday, March 12. In Cousins, they might have gotten the Drew Brees of 13 years ago.
It's hard to believe there is a fan base anywhere else in the NFL that would excoriate such a move, and it's painfully ironic that many lamenting the decision are the same people who in the summer can't go two weeks without calling the Pohlads tightwads; now, suddenly, they're worried about having enough money to re-sign Jeremiah Sirles and extend Anthony Barr's contract.
Yes, there is no salary cap in baseball, but who's zooming who? You are not a capologist and it's not your money. It's smart to think ahead, but it's smarter to see your chance and jump on it. With the NFL's first entirely guaranteed contract since Dan Marino's more than three decades ago — a reported three years for $84 million — Spielman and the Vikings have jumped head first.
Cousins now has Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen to throw to and, presumably, Dalvin Cook to hand off to; all he has to do for a solid Vikings offense to improve is be himself.
Meanwhile in Denver, Broncos fans still hurting over losing Kyle Sloter last fall are praying to Saint Sebastian that Keenum isn't the quarterback he's been for all but one, glorious season of his six-year NFL career. In New York, Jets fans are crouched in the closet, telling themselves Teddy Bridgewater is ready to blossom despite playing two series in two years because of a catastrophic left knee injury.
Maybe that's all the case, but which fan would you rather be right now?