In terms of win-loss record, the Minnesota Vikings season was not where it should have been, but there was hope because Kirk Cousins was the team's quarterback. Cousins, one of the low-key most consistent QBs in the NFL, was pacing for the best year of his NFL career, but a devastating Week 8 injury ended his season prematurely.
It pumps the brakes on the Vikings season in general. While they traded for Josh Dobbs at the trade deadline, a move that may keep them on life support for the time being, few can see them making a push into the postseason without Cousins under center.
His absence provokes questions about the team's future, as Cousins is in a contract year. He'll be a free agent after this season, and after securing major money his last few deals, he could go anywhere.
Could he wind up back in Minnesota? The door might be more open than one might think.
Kirk Cousins may not be done as a Viking
Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah spoke to the media after Cousins' injury and said the veteran quarterback is already talking about being back for OTAs next season.
Now, that could mean Cousins is going to be back for OTAs with any of the 32 NFL teams out there, not necessarily the Vikings, but him hyping up his return to Adofo-Mensah is certainly notable. The circumstances could align perfectly for a contract extension for Cousins, and perhaps the discussion was a subtle plea to start working on extension terms.
Previously, it seemed as though Cousins returning to Minnesota after this year was a longshot. Some other team would probably offer him more money, pricing him out of Minneapolis who, with a youthful core of talented players, might prefer to find its next quarterback.
But now, the market on Cousins has instantly gone down. Do teams really want to shell out major money for a 35-year-old quarterback coming of an Achilles' tear? A lower price could make the deal more tenable for the Vikes, who could extend him at any point now if they wanted to. For Cousins, recovering from a major injury in a familiar spot with a familiar team could be preferable to the alternative.
Cousins is no sure thing to suit up in purple and gold next year, but the likelihood feels a bit higher following his injury.