When the Minnesota Vikings signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to a one-year, $35 million contract extension back in March of 2022, it stood to reason that he’d be with the team long-term.
Said extension created a huge dead cap hit for the 2023 campaign while voiding out the 2024 and 2025 seasons.
Now that Minnesota is coming off a disappointing loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs, there’s renewed questions about Cousins’ future in the Twin Cities.
General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah held his season-ending press conference Wednesday afternoon with reporters. He was asked about Cousins’ future with the Vikings.
While the GM refused to guarantee that the Pro Bowl QB would return in 2023, he didn’t leave open a real possibility of a divorce. “It’s our expectation Kirk Cousins will be the Vikings’ quarterback in 2023,” Adofo-Mensah said.
The front office head added that it’s unknown whether Cousins will play out the final year of his contract or receive an extension this offseason.
Kirk Cousins contract and Minnesota Vikings salary cap situation
Cousins is set to count $36.25 million against the cap in 2023. If he were traded or released ahead of June 1, the dead cap hit would be $48.75 million. A post-June 1 designation would create a $36.25 million dead cap hit.
Regardless of the Vikings’ internal feelings surrounding Cousins as a franchise quarterback, it makes absolutely no financial sense to trade or release him this coming offseason. Moving off him after the 2023 campaign would make more sense in this regard.
As for what Minnesota is up against heading into the offseason, it is currently a projected $13.16 million over the estimated 2023 NFL salary cap. Adofo-Mensah and Co. are going to have decisions to make outside of Cousins.
Kirk Cousins as the solution in Minnesota
Despite the Vikings’ premature playoff exit, Cousins continued to prove himself as one of the better quarterbacks in the league. He led the eighth-ranked scoring offense at nearly 25 points per game. The veteran also played at a high level en route to leading Minnesota to a surprising 13-4 regular-season record.
- Kirk Cousins stats (2022): 66% completion, 4,547 yards, 29 TD, 14 INT
Let’s say the Vikings are able to get out of Cousins’ contract somehow, what better options exist in free agency or the trade market?
The top free-agent quarterbacks are going to be Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Daniel Jones and Jacoby Brissett. At this point, none of those four seem to be an upgrade over Cousins in Minnesota. Hence, why the team seems to be committed to their incumbent for at least next season.