Things have turned out very different from what all the experts were predicting back in the 2012 draft, when the Seahawks selected Russell Wilson in the third round and the Redskins picked up Kirk Cousins in the fourth. Both players came into the league as backups, however Wilson beat out Matt Flynn for the starting job and lead Seattle to the playoffs in his rookie season, while Cousins was forced into action when Robert Griffin III went down and eventually Washington fell in love with their Cousins… Fast forward six seasons and Russell has become the face of Seattle sports with a championship ring, playoff appearances in all but one season and his name littered in the record books for the Seahawks and Kirk has a lot of money. After becoming the franchise tag poster child with the Redskins where he earned top five quarterback money on a year-by-year basis, Cousins finally hit free agency and the Vikings did not miss their chance, giving him a fully guaranteed twenty-eight million dollar a year contract. Wilson, on the other hand, is nearing the end of a deal he signed in 2015 that made him one of the highest paid players in the league and this off season the Seahawks are getting ready to do just that again. Which of these two quarterbacks is justifying the price tag that comes with their services and which one is failing to impress? As the they are set to square off this Monday night, let’s dive into the Wilson vs. Cousins debate.
They say the best ability is availability, and in terms of being available for his team, Wilson is the best in the league. Since entering the NFL in 2012, Wilson has played in and started every single game for the Seahawks, that is one hundred and twenty straight games, including the playoffs. Cousin’s has played in just seventy six games in that same span with injuries and benchings attributing to the disparity in addition to his quiet rookie season. In the 2013 and 2014 seasons, while Russell was appearing in back to back Super Bowls and taking a Lombardi back to Seattle, Cousins dealt with multiple lower body injuries and was stuck in a three faced quarterback carousel including a one-legged Robert Griffin III and Colt McCoy. In 2015 however, Kirk found his game and began to look like a franchise quarterback and lead Washington to the playoffs behind a four thousand yard season. Unfortunately, after the 2015 season, both players entered a monotonous offensive line hell with nothing resembling a run game to help them out or keep them off the ground. Despite this Cousins threw for nine thousand yards in two seasons and Wilson achieved career highs in touchdowns and passing yards in a single season. One defining stat that has really set Wilson apart is his ability to win, he is the winningest quarterback in the 2012 class and he performs in the clutch with seventeen career fourth quarter game winning drives, as opposed to nine from Kirk Cousins. We can see that both of these players deserved big pay days from their past performance, but how do they stack up in 2018?
Cousins is the highest paid player in the league in terms of guaranteed money and a fully guaranteed contract had never been done before so expectations were high to say the least and the results have been mixed. Kirk has thrown for nearly thirty-five hundred yards, which ranks sixth in the league and he has the second highest completion percentage behind Drew Brees. You can flip the coin though and see he ranks in the top ten in sacks and has the second most fumbles in the league with just twenty-three touchdowns on the season and a Vikings offense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in terms of points per game. Wilson, on the other hand, is more or less the inverse Cousins, in that he is not lighting the league on fire with passing yards, but he makes every single pass count. Russell has been efficiency personified in 2018. In addition to averaging over eight yards per attempt, ranked seventh, and throwing twenty-nine touchdowns, ranked fourth, Wilson has the third best touchdown to interception ratio behind Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Throwing nearly six touchdowns for every interception, Wilson is actually currently on track to record one of the ten best touchdown to interception seasons by any quarterback.
With both Wilson and Cousins entering new offensive systems in 2018, the comparison between the two is really as honest as you can get with out literally putting them on the same team. If you had to chose a player to trust to get you to give you a shot to win every game year after year, even given the fact that his number is going to hit thirty million at least next season, the choice is obviously Russell. Cousins has some flashy numbers but he doesn’t excel in the areas that make a difference and push his team to victory the same way Wilson does. Russell has shown that he can perform year after year in the most important moments to get his team where they need to go and he is only getting better. He is performing in the same tier as Tom Brady and Drew Brees and he is ten years younger, which makes him worth the investment as the Seahawks look to begin a new dynasty.