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Kirk Cousins’ future with Minnesota Vikings in question following Kwesi Adofo-Mensah hiring

During his four-year run with the Minnesota Vikings, quarterback Kirk Cousins had the unbridled support of head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman.

That might no longer be the case after the two were fired following a disappointing 8-9 season. We have absolutely no idea who Minnesota is going to bring in as its next head coach.

What we do know is that former San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns executive Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has officially been brought in to replace Spielman as the Vikings’ next general manager.

“Kwesi has a clear philosophy on building a complementary football team,” Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said in a statement. “His intelligence, progressive mind-set and passion for the game, along with his ability to make thoughtful and intentional decisions, provide a tremendous foundation as he leads our football operations.”

Adofo-Mensah, 40, has unique experience. He has economic degrees from both Princeton and Stanford. The New Jersey native also spent eight years on Wall Street. He has an understanding of the finances of the NFL and took on a player personnel role with the Browns. These two things can go hand in hand.

As for Cousins, Adofo-Mensah’s previous relationships coupled with who the Vikings bring in to be their next head coach will play a major role in the quarterback’s future in Minneapolis.

Related: Ideal Kirk Cousins trade scenarios

Kirk Cousins contract and potential trade

kirk cousins future minnesota vikings
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Cousins signed a two-year, $66 million extension with the Vikings back in March of 2020. He’s set to count $45 million against the cap in 2022. The dead cap hit is $35 million.

At this point, it will be incredibly hard for the Vikings to move off Cousins. They would likely have to wait until June 1. Said trade would save the team $35 million against the cap with a $10 million dead cap hit.

The NFL calendar makes this difficult in that most teams will have their quarterback situations settled by the time June 1 comes calling. Short of some type of handshake deal, Cousins will likely return to the Vikings to play out the remainder of his contract in 2022.

But it’s not that simple. As we saw during the 2021 season, these Vikings are not anywhere near legit conference title contenders. Heck, they didn’t look like playoff contenders throughout a majority of the campaign. Ridding themselves of Cousins’ contract while treating 2022 as a season of transition in Minneapolis could very well be in the cards. Adofo-Mensah’s experience in economics will play a role here, too.

The Vikes currently find themselves an estimated $12.2 million over the projected 2022 NFL salary cap. There’s a darn good chance the team will end up moving off the likes of Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith and Anthony Barr this offseason. Said moves would save Minnesota a whopping $34-plus million.

Minnesota also has to think long and hard about restructuring the contracts of Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks and Dalvin Cook. According to Over the Cap, these moves would save the Vikings another $16.8 million. That’s north of $50 million — more than enough to eat the dead cap hit it would take to trade Cousins ($35 million).

Related: Where does Kirk Cousins rank among NFL QBs?

Would teams have interest in a Kirk Cousins trade?

Kirk Cousins
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Yes. That’s the short-form answer to this loaded question. Statistically, the 33-year-old has been a top-10 quarterback since he joined Minnesota from Washington back in 2018.

Those are insane stats right there. Sure there’s other factors outside of basic box score scouting. Cousins’ career record against winning teams being a point of contention. But he’s a good quarterback.

As for the finances, an acquiring team wouldn’t be in the same situation as Minnesota. A restructure would be in the cards, lowering his cap number in a big way.

Specific interest is purely hyperbolic at this point. However, former Vikings executive George Paton is now the Denver Broncos general manager. He has a need at quarterback with Aaron Rodgers being a primary target. Cousins wouldn’t be a bad silver medal in a quarterback race for the Broncos should Rodgers remain with the Green Bay Packers or go to another team.

Among playoff contenders, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas Raiders, Carolina Panthers and Washington Football Team (that’d be wild) all have potential need at quarterbacks. In short, there would be a market for Cousins.

Related: Ideal Minnesota Vikings head coach candidates

New Vikings head coach will play a role in Kirk Cousins situation

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams Joint Practice
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Minnesota has conducted interviews with eight candidates to replace Zimmer.

  • Nathaniel Hackett, Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator
  • Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator
  • Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator
  • Raheem Morris, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator
  • Kevin O’Connell, Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator
  • Jonathan Gannon, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator
  • DeMeco Ryans, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator
  • Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator

The team’s decision to hire a general manager first means that Adofo-Mensah will likely have final say. As for a leader in the clubhouse, it’s being reported that DeMeco Ryans is favored to be the Vikings’ next head coach. As with Morris and O’Connell, Minnesota would have to wait until San Francisco’s season ends before officially naming Ryans its next head coach.

Again, all of this will be a determining factor in what the Vikings do at quarterback. Purely hypothetical, a Jimmy Garoppolo for Kirk Cousins swap could be in the cards depending on how San Francisco’s playoff run ends and how it views Trey Lance as a potential starter in 2022. We know head coach Kyle Shanahan is a huge fan of Cousins. We also know that Ryans was with the 49ers when they traded for Garoppolo in the first place.

Todd Bowles was the New York Jets head coach when they started an underrated Ryan Fitzpatrick. O’Connell worked with Cousins when the two were members of the Washington Football Team organization.

Heck, there’s a scenario that Adofo-Mensah goes back to his Cleveland roots by trading for former Browns No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield. In turn, Cleveland could have interest in Cousins.

The list goes on and on.

While we’re not ready to determine the Vikings will move off Kirk Cousins, his future in Minnesota is now more cloudy following the hiring of Adofo-Mensah.

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