The most attention-grabbing 2018 NFL free agency domino has fallen.
Kirk Cousins plans to imprint a Three-300 and sixty five days, fully guaranteed $eighty four million contract with the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, sources informed ESPN’s Adam Schefter, making him the most sensible-paid quarterback in the league.
The news moved Minnesota’s Trim Bowl LIII odds from Sixteen-1 to 12-1 — tied with the Green Bay Packers for fourth simplest — at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. How else will the Cousins news impact the Vikings and the NFC landscape?
Our panel of ESPN NFL Insiders predict Minnesota’s 2018 epic, weigh in on which crew is the NFC favourite and what’s subsequent for the Vikings:
What’s going to be the Vikings’ 2018 epic?
Matt Bowen, NFL creator: eleven-5. Adding Cousins to pair with one among the NFL’s top defenses pushes the Vikings to the tip of the NFC North standings at season’s end. However the toll road gained’t be easy with Aaron Rodgers aid on the world in Green Bay and a valuable slate of non-divisional games. An eleven-5 epic appears to be like savor an cheap expectation heading into the postseason dance.
Mike Clay, NFL creator: 10-6. (Disclaimer that I’m slightly conservative.) With Cousins in-dwelling, an unbelievable running sport, a trio of targets, a serviceable offensive line and one among the league’s simplest defenses, Minnesota sports one among the NFL’s top rosters. The Vikings are the most modern favorites to carry the NFC North and a convincing contender to get aid to the NFC Championship Game.
Courtney Cronin, ESPN Vikings reporter: eleven-5. The Vikings accept as true with Cousins is the answer to getting over the proverbial inch toward a Trim Bowl. Sadly, their toll road schedule would no longer stop them any favors. Trips to Philadelphia, Los Angeles (Rams), Unique England, Seattle and the identical old NFC North spots get for an uphill fight.
Dan Graziano, nationwide NFL creator: 10-6. The Packers approach roaring aid to get this a end urge, and toll road games against the Rams, Seahawks, Patriots and Eagles get for a valuable schedule. Minnesota can peaceful be a playoff crew, but I get no longer deem a 13-Three repeat is in the cards, even supposing I savor the Cousins signing.
KC Joyner, NFL creator: 10-6. Minnesota wants so as to hurry four-2 in the NFC North, 2-2 against the NFC West and Three-1 against the AFC East. Add in a 1-1 split against the Saints and Eagles and it is a ten-6 assign.
Mike Sando, senior NFL creator: eleven-5. Cousins needs to be a fine get for the Vikings, but their overall QB play has been slightly factual for the past three seasons, no subject your total uncertainty. If Cousins plays about to boot to he has performed the past three seasons, the Vikings will be upgrading, but no longer dramatically. The numbers hiss the adaptation could perchance perchance additionally be less than one additional victory per season on the total, and the crew could perchance perchance additionally lose bigger than one victory off its surprisingly sturdy QB production from 2017.
Aaron Schatz, editor-in-chief of Football Outsiders: eleven-5. Cousins needs to be an upgrade over what we would demand from Case Keenum in 2018. However I get no longer know if Cousins can undoubtedly be well-known of an upgrade from what the Vikings got from Keenum in 2017. Add in customary regression confronted by 13-Three groups, and this appears to be like savor a pretty factual forecast.
Kevin Seifert, nationwide NFL creator: eleven-5. The Vikings could perchance be pleased a first-position schedule and, as absorbing because the Cousins acquisition is, they’re peaceful breaking in a brand new quarterback with a brand new offensive coordinator. To demand fully mushy sailing from Week 1, after which meet or exceed closing 300 and sixty five days’s 13-Three epic, could perchance perchance additionally be unrealistic.
Field Yates, NFL Insider: eleven-5. Is it imaginable that Minnesota could perchance perchance additionally emerge because the tip crew in the NFC? Needless to claim. However take into story, the Vikings’ schedule involves games against the many division winners from closing 300 and sixty five days, to boot to four games against the Packers and Lions, who will both be effective groups in 2018.
Who’s the NFC favourite in 2018?
Bowen: Saints. The Eagles, Vikings and Rams are in the mix here. And get no longer neglect about Green Bay with Rodgers aid and a brand new defensive identity below coordinator Mike Pettine. However I’m taking a search at Drew Brees, the NFL’s most dynamic running aid combo and an aggressive defense that can duvet in the aid end. This Saints squad is built to carry in January.
Clay: Eagles. No assign a query to. It be easy to simply take the defending Trim Bowl champions, but this crew is admittedly stacked on paper, especially after in conjunction with Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata to the line of defense. They even be pleased Jordan Hicks, Jason Peters and that Carson Wentz guy due aid from hurt.
Cronin: Eagles. The neatly off preserve getting richer, get no longer they? Philadelphia’s additions on the line of defense of Ngata and Bennett get the Eagles the most star-studded neighborhood in the NFL. They comely gained a Trim Bowl with backup quarterback Nick Foles, who it sounds as if is no longer going wherever, and must peaceful get Wentz aid this plunge. The Vikings, Rams, Saints and Packers all will contend, but it is laborious to search the Eagles no longer contending to carry one other Trim Bowl.
Graziano: Saints. It could well probably perchance perchance also be easy to take a seat down here and hiss the Eagles are the favorites to repeat, but for goodness’ sake, there hasn’t even been a repeat NFC East champion since 2004. It be laborious to hurry to the Trim Bowl two years in a row. Unique Orleans peaceful has the simplest QB among the many tip contenders and lost its playoff sport on a miracle.
Joyner: Eagles. Howie Roseman’s personnel wizardry has taken a Trim Bowl winner and made it even stronger. Minnesota will enviornment the Eagles, but as we saw in the playoffs, the Vikings’ defense is nowhere end to as sturdy as its recognition suggests, so Philadelphia must peaceful but again top them for the convention crown.
Sando: Eagles. Philadelphia is the favourite for glaring causes, but I gained’t be surprised if the Cowboys enviornment the Eagles in the NFC East and one other crew emerges from the convention — the Vikings could perchance perchance additionally be that crew in the occasion that they derive dwelling-enviornment profit. It be comely valuable to approach aid off Philly comely now, earlier than the legitimate start of free agency.
Schatz: Rams. They be pleased been No. 1 in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings till they sat all their starters in Week 17. All their younger gamers be pleased an additional 300 and sixty five days of journey, and the combo of Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib is a predominant upgrade at the needed cornerback position. Plus, a weaker AFC West must peaceful give the Rams (and 49ers!) a small schedule profit over the Vikings, Eagles and Saints.
Seifert: Eagles. They gained the Trim Bowl with their backup quarterback in 2017, and their starting MVP contender will return. The Vikings be pleased splashed, but let’s no longer neglect about the defending champions.
Yates: Eagles. This crew, original off of a Trim Bowl bound, already has received a top price lunge-rusher in Bennett, a younger, cheap cornerback in Daryl Worley and a huge bound-stuffer in Ngata. With the return of Wentz, an forever-deep lunge bound and a ambitious offensive line, Philly is primed to get a deep bound again subsequent season.
What needs to be the Vikings’ subsequent transfer?
Bowen: Offensive line. With Cousins now linked to new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in a latest West Cruise system — a combination of play-action lunge, bound-lunge alternatives and drag — in conjunction with opponents on the within of the offensive line is the next lunge. And Minnesota can salvage price there in free agency. The Vikings can even look for a slot cornerback in free agency with passe Terence Newman space to hit the market.
Clay: Offensive line and the defensive within. They’re the weakest links on the roster, so I demand them to home both in the coming months. Re-signing or upgrading from guard Joe Berger and defensive tackles Shamar Stephen and Tom Johnson needs to be the next precedence. Minnesota also needs to be taking a search to add a No. 2 or Three cornerback tiring Xavier Rhodes. Patrick Robinson, Aaron Colvin, Nickell Robey-Coleman and TJ Carrie can play the slot and get masses of sense.
Cronin: Receive a defensive kind out in free agency. The vaunted lunge bound struggled mightily toward the end of closing season, and Minnesota undoubtedly needs to salvage somebody who can preserve down the position subsequent to Linval Joseph. Then draft an offensive lineman. Selecting somebody savor Billy Value from Ohio Advise would be a fine reach to add depth and enable for Mike Remmers to transfer aid to comely kind out.
Graziano: Extensions for about a of their defensive stalwarts. I would demand Eric Kendricks to get a deal in coaching camp, if no longer earlier than, and sometime they’ll favor to derive gamers such as Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr and Trae Waynes. With the QB in position, stop what the Eagles stop and lock up your core.
Joyner: Toughen their offensive line. Closing 300 and sixty five days, Minnesota ranked Twentieth in my factual blockading price metric that measures bound-blockading consistency, and 24th in lunge stress price allowed. The Vikings will favor to get seriously greater in both areas in issue to maximize the cost of the Cousins acquisition.
Sando: They could perchance perchance additionally consume a tweak on the offensive line, but they favor to peaceful steer clear of throwing immense money at mediocre blockers comely to genuinely feel factual about having addressed the position. I would favor to add a downfield scoring threat and wouldn’t argue with them in the occasion that they looked for a defensive lineman, basically basically based on how closely Mike Zimmer depends on a four-man bound. That space of the crew must dwell sturdy at all cases.
Schatz: Enchancment on the offensive line. Even though it is comely for depth. They can not enable themselves to plunge into the hurt gap that destroyed their 2016 season. This would be a factual position to home with quite so a lot of later-round draft picks.
Seifert: Reinforcing the offensive line. Don’t neglect the personnel juggling this crew used to be compelled to total at the end of closing season, really on story of simplest one hurt to provide protection to Nick Easton. They need one other starting guard and greater depth to provide protection to the Cousins investment.
Yates: A resolution on Latavius Murray. Let’s search with an especially end to lens, as Murray’s downhearted salary for 2018 of $5.15 million turns into guaranteed on the third day of the NFL league 300 and sixty five days. Deciding whether or now to no longer preserve him, transfer on from him or attitude for a restructured deal could perchance be pleased salary-cap implications and perchance deem the set up the crew feels Dalvin Cook is in his recovery from an ACL scamper.