Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was excluded from former NFL tight end Clay Harbor's list of the top 10 best quarterbacks in the NFC ahead of the 2023 season.
Harbor, an eight-year NFL veteran and former Bachelorette contestant, named Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and MVP candidate Jalen Hurts as the conference's top quarterback, followed by Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears, Daniel Jones of the New York Giants, Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers, Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams, Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions, Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys, Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks, Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals and Jordan Love of the Green Bay Packers.
Harbor didn't rank the six remaining projected starting quarterbacks for the 16 NFC teams, but by his logic, Cousins is the lowest-ranked among all NFC North Division starters at his position behind Fields, Goff and Love, who has only made one career start in four appearances behind Aaron Rodgers.
Cousins led all returning NFC quarterbacks with 4,547 passing yards -- trailing only recently retired former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (4,694) -- and ranked second with 29 touchdown passes behind only Smith (30). The Pro Bowler's exclusion from the list comes amid uncertainty regarding his long-term future in Minnesota, as he enters his final season under contract.
Cousins agreed to "a cap conversion on" his current contract in an effort to create "additional salary cap room," a source with knowledge of the situation told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on March 14.
General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah confirmed that the team expected Cousins to be its quarterback in 2023, but acknowledged will look at options before deciding whether to offer another extension during a press conference alongside head coach Kevin O'Connell on January 18, three days after their 31-24 Wild Card Round elimination loss to the New York Giants.
O'Connell -- who had previously worked with Cousins as a quarterbacks coach in 2017 during their shared tenure with the now-Washington Commanders -- seemed more optimistic about Cousins and other players' progressions in 2023.
“I’m excited for, not only Kirk, but a lot of our players who will now have a year in the system and can really build off of that,” O'Connell said at the time via Pro Football Talk.
Last month, two NFL Network mock drafts predicted the Vikings would take a quarterback in the first round of the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. Daniel Jeremiah had the Vikings selecting former Tennessee star Hendon Hooker and Charles Davis pegged Minnesota to take former Kentucky quarterback Will Levis.
Cousins finished the Wild Card Round loss to the Giants with 273 yards and two touchdowns on 31 of 39 passing, as well as one rushing touchdown on a one-yard carry, but was scrutinized for throwing a pass on 4th and 8 that was well short of the first down marker and forced a turnover on downs with 1:44 remaining and no timeouts left. The 11-year veteran threw for 4,547 yards, 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on 424 of 643 passing, while leading the Vikings to a 13-4 record, during the 2022 regular season.
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