Around the NFL: Vikings Commited to Cousins, Donald and McVay Aren't Going Anywhere, Malcom Butler Comeback, More

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Around the NFL: Vikings Commited to Cousins, Donald and McVay Aren’t Going Anywhere, Malcom Butler Comeback, More

Chicago Bears

Football season may be over, but ATNFL isn’t going anywhere! Let’s get into it, first with the QB situation in Minnesota …

New Vikings HC Excited to Coach Kirk Cousins

The Vikings might be on Deshaun Watson’s radar this offseason if the Texans decide to trade the embattled quarterback facing 22 civil sexual assault lawsuits by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. But I wouldn’t put too much stock into that idea. At face value, Watson’s pending legal issues and the $35 million base salary ($45 million cap number) that Minnesota is locked into with Kirk Cousins both seem like non-starters right out of the gates. Could the Vikings and Texans work something out to make the numbers work? Yes, they could. But, again, what would motivate the Vikings to want to inherit the circus that comes along with Deshaun Watson right now at little-to-no cap relief? Nothing. It’s just not a deal that makes sense for Minnesota.

Then there are the reports by Nick Shook and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com that new Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell is excited to coach Cousins this season and that Vikings are committed to the veteran quarterback in 2022.

Kevin O’Connell worked with Cousins in Washington when he was the quarterback’s coach there in 2017, and he’s already designing his offense around the current Vikings QB.

“Well, I know he’s under contract, and I’m excited to coach him,” O’Connell said. “We’ve already started thinking about how we’re going to build those systems for him and our other quarterbacks, and really the tremendous skill group we have our guys up front. It takes all 11 to move the football on offense, run it, throw it, and score points in the red zone. But, I’m anticipating Kirk being a part of what we do.”

Cousins is a bit of a meme around the league due to his lack of flare and his lack of big-game success, but he’s played very well during his time in Minnesota, posting a passer rating of 99.7 or higher all four seasons in Minnesota and is coming off a 33 touchdown, seven interception season for the Vikings in 2021.

Kirk Cousins might not be the long-term solution in Minnesota, but I have to believe that he’s the immediate answer for a brand new front office and coaching staff looking to get their footing in the Twin Cities this year. There’s no reason for a first-time GM and first-time head coach to move on from a veteran quarterback who can play above-average football and help them evaluate their roster in year one on the job, especially in a year in which the quarterback class is extraordinarily underwhelming.

Will Aaron Donald and Sean McVay Actually Retire?

The hot storyline on Super Bowl Sunday and the days that have followed is centered around two of the critical components to the Los Angeles Rams’ success, Aaron Donald and Sean McVay, and whether or not they will return to the Rams next year, with both contemplating walking away from the NFL.

Bologna. Sorry, that’s bull crap, full stop, neither of them is going anywhere … if Stan Kroenke opens up the checkbook and pays the star pass rusher and Super Bowl-winning head coach what they think they’re worth.

Donald is set to make $9.25 million in base salary with roughly $17.5 million coming from roster bonus, signing bonus, and money kicked down the road in earlier restructures in 2022 in the middle of a six-year, $135 million extension he signed with the Rams. But, as we know, seldom do players of Donald’s caliber make it to the end of these extensions before they’ve outplayed them and the market dictates they’re entitled to a substantial raise. Despite Donald’s base salary being criminally low for his value, he’s still making $26.75 million all told this season, which puts him near the top of the highest-paid interior defensive lineman.

McVay is currently making $8.5 million per year on a deal that runs through 2023, but he’s due a massive raise. The 36-year-old head coach has compiled a 55-26 regular-season record, three NFC West titles, and two NFC championships during his five-year run, so it’ll be time for McVay to be among the highest-paid coaches in the NFL.

In the end, this is nothing more than posturing by Los Angeles’ superstar defensive lineman and head coach. They’ll get paid — and they’ll be the favorites to — as they said on stage during their Super Bowl celebration, “run it back.”

Matthew, Kelly Stafford to Pay Injured Photog’s Medical Expenses

You’ve seen the clip of Matthew Stafford’s less-than-inspiring reaction to a photographer falling off the stage at the Rams Super Bowl celebration on Wednesday by now. The video showed Kelly Smiley, a photo editor for the NFL, NBA, and NHL, and a freelance photographer falling backward off the stage in front of Stafford and his wife, Kelly. Smiley tweeted that the fall fractured her spine and destroyed both of her cameras.

Now, Stafford and his wife Kelly have volunteered to pay for Smiley’s medical and equipment expenses.

“We have been in communication with Kelly Smiley since yesterday’s incident, and we are sorry for what happened,” the Rams and the Staffords said in a joint statement. “As we told Kelly, we will be covering all her hospital bills and replacing her cameras. We wish her a speedy recovery.”

According to Adam Schefter, a GoFundMe page was created to help Smiley and had generated more than $42,000 in donations as of Thursday afternoon.

The “oh shi–” face followed by the quick 180-degree turn and stroll away by the drunken Stafford wasn’t a great look. Stafford didn’t necessarily do anything wrong in this whole mess except make himself look bad. Either way, it’s nice to see that he’ll be making things right financially for Smiley.

Malcolm Butler Preparing for a Comeback?

According to Ian Rapoport, Malcolm Butler has been released by the Arizona Cardinals from their reserve/retirement list, begging the question, is the soon-to-be 32-year-old cornerback mulling a comeback in 2022?

Butler spent four seasons in New England and earned an All-Pro selection, Pro Bowl selection, and two Super Bowls before signing a five-year, $61.25 million deal with the Tennessee Titans before the 2018 season. The Titans cut Butler after the 2020 season, and he landed with the Arizona Cardinals on a one-year, $3.25 million deal before deciding to retire before the start of the 2021 season. Now, it seems like Butler is gearing up for another go of it after taking a season off, according to Mike Giardi of the NFL Network.

Extra Points …

•   The College Football Playoff is expected to announce that they’re sticking with the four-team playoff format for at least the next four years, according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel:

•   I, too, love Raising Canes, but I think I would have taken the day after the Super Bowl off, personally.

•   If you didn’t think that this was the end-game for Harbaugh the entire time, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

•   Morgan Freeman narrator voice: “He didn’t listen.”

•   Does it get any cooler than this? Van Jefferson, had himself the wildest three hours possible, right?

•   Allen Robinson is throwing all the shots on the way out the door:

•   Jameis Winston is looking sharp. Will he return to New Orleans or end up elsewhere in 2022?

•   LOL:

•   A legendary fashion choice for the Super Bowl parade that cost you all the draft picks …

• Deep stuff from Rams linebacker Von Miller on his former teammate, the late Demaryius Thomas:

•   Joe Burrow is different 😂:

•   Dick Butkus, Hall of Famer and know stealer of Aaron Rodgers’ fiancé …



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.