Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins may be on the same team, but the two Minnesota Vikings are in entirely different standing.
Jefferson is on the verge of receiving a record-breaking contract extension that the Vikings hope will lock the superstar wide receiver down as long as possible. Contrarily, Cousins is entering the final year of his contract after the Vikings declined to re-sign him to a long-term deal in the offseason.
Who will be throwing to Jefferson beyond this season should be a talking point in the 24-year-old’s negotiations — and that question remains unclear.
Just days away from the 2023 season opener, Jefferson granted Cousins his vote but also understood his say has its limits with the business of the NFL. He declined to answer whether the future of the quarterback position in Minnesota would impact his negotiations.
“It’s a part of the business. It’s kind of really hard to say so,” Jefferson said in a September 7 media conference. “Of course I would love for Kirk to continue to be my quarterback. … But, again, I don’t control that. That’s up to the team and up to Kirk. But of course I would love to have Kirk and continue my journey with Kirk.”
It remains to be seen how Cousins’ future will impact Jefferson’s contract talks. Jefferson could sign before the start of the season, but he could also table talks for next offseason as the quarterback situation in Minnesota remains uncertain.
Vikings, Kirk Cousins Divided on Terms of New Contract
GettyQuarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings.
Minnesota made a decision this offseason not to commit to Cousins long-term.
According to the Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling, Cousins offered the Vikings a team-friendly discount on a deal that would keep him in purple and gold through the 2025 season.
“The sense I’ve gotten is that they didn’t want to commit as long as what he was looking for. They wanted something shorter, he wanted something longer. My understanding is that 2025 was the issue,” Goessling said on the podcast in March. “The question of how long would everyone guarantee it for. I think he wanted ’25, they were like ‘well, we don’t want to commit that long.’ He’d be 37 before the 2025 season so it gets to be later in the game than you want to fully guarantee a quarterback deal.”
Cousins appears to be looking for one more long-term contract instead of taking another short-term extension in Minnesota.
Ahead of training camp, Cousins said that he doesn’t intend to restart contract talks until next March. His agent will appraise a quarterback of Cousins’ caliber with other teams to, at the very least, inform the discussion with the Vikings and potentially test the market before free agency officially opens.
If Cousins’ agent finds that they can secure him a contract of his liking elsewhere, the onus will be on Minnesota to pony up, which the Vikings have yet to show they’re willing to do despite a 13-win season with Cousins a year ago.
Vikings Still Searching for Answers at QB
GettyHead coach Kevin O’Connell of the Minnesota Vikings.
Along with Goessling’s intel on the length of Cousins’ next contract being a sticking point, his colleague Andrew Krammer reported that Cousins wasn’t looking for Daniel Jones money — a contract exceeding $40 million a year.
However, even a team-friendly deal for a veteran quarterback of Cousins’ stature doesn’t compare to the cap savings of a rookie-scale contract.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell addressed the benefits of having a rookie quarterback approaching a 2023 draft where Minnesota was rumored to be interested in several quarterbacks.
The Vikings couldn’t land in striking distance to take any of the top three quarterbacks inside the top five picks and didn’t believe enough in Will Levis to take him in the first round.
That’s left Minnesota without a confident contingency plan if Cousins walks in free agency next offseason.
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