Red Flag Raised Over Vikings QB Kirk Cousins Despite Strong Season

After contract extension talks stalled this offseason, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins let the world know that he doesn’t intend to restart contract talks until next March.

Much like his final year in Washington, Cousins has bet on himself and will test the market in free agency after his current team did not commit to him long-term. His agent can and will appraise a quarterback of Cousins’ caliber with other teams to, at the very least, inform the discussion with the Vikings that has been tabled until March.

But if Minnesota cannot match whatever potential offer Cousins’ agent finds elsewhere in the league, the 35-year-old quarterback could part ways with the Vikings after six seasons.

Longtime Vikings beat reporter Judd Zulgad argued that the way the cards have fallen over the past nine months has shown that Cousins is not a priority for the organization. If he puts together another winning season, Cousins could seek to move on to a place where he is valued higher when 2024 free agency opens next March.

“There doesn’t appear to be any animosity between Cousins and the Vikings’ front office or Cousins and O’Connell. But the Vikings have made it clear that Cousins wasn’t one of their key priorities this offseason. Tight end T.J. Hockenson, who had a year left on his rookie contract, just signed a four-year extension that contains $42.5 million in total guarantees,” Zulgad wrote, adding that Justin Jefferson is also expected to be rewarded as the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league.

“Jefferson, of course, might have some questions about who will be throwing him the ball in 2024. If O’Connell continues to get the most out of Cousins, the happy-go-lucky quarterback could decide to take his act elsewhere,” Zulgad added.

Vikings Owe Kirk Cousins Over $28 Million Regardless if He Re-Signs in Minnesota

Kirk Cousins

GettyVikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is expected to garner a lucrative contract in the 2024 offseason.

After the Vikings and Cousins couldn’t reach an agreement on an extension, Minnesota pivoted to restructuring Cousins’ contract for the 2023 season to create $16 million in cap space for free agency.

The restructure converted a $20 million roster bonus into a signing bonus and spread those earnings across void years of Cousins’ contract. He’s due $28.5 million against next year’s salary cap regardless if he stays in Minnesota or goes elsewhere.

Hockenson and Jefferson’s cap hits are only going to get higher in the coming years, which could make having Cousins on a long-term deal like he wants difficult under the new regime’s “competitive rebuild” philosophy.

But if Cousins can take the Vikings deep into the playoffs, they may be ready to fully embrace a win-now mentality and invest their future finances into the veteran quarterback.

Vikings Have Ideal Situation for Young QB

The upcoming quarterback craft class could be a historic group brimming with first-round talent. That bodes well for the Vikings, who could be seeking a future franchise quarterback by next April.

Minnesota would be an ideal situation for a young quarterback to develop with weapons like Jefferson, Hockenson and Jordan Addison at their disposal long term.

Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill make up one of the top tackle duos in the league, and with the cap savings that come with a quarterback on a rookie-scale deal, the offensive interior could be reinforced with veteran free agents.

Lastly, Kevin O’Connell has proven to be the quarterback whisperer with what he got out of Cousins in 2022. The culture he’s building in Minnesota builds up players, which is exactly what a young quarterback will need.

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