The Vikings are likely stuck with Kirk Cousins through 2022

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Minnesota’s overtime win over the Saints in the 2019 wild-card round unlocked new contracts for multiple key members of the organization. The highest paid of the bunch — quarterback Kirk Cousins — likely won’t be going anywhere any time soon, without leaving behind a significant cash and cap burden.

The two-year extension signed by Cousins gave him $30 million up front along with 2020 and 2021 salaries of $9.5 million and $21 million guaranteed for injury, skill, and cap. And here’s the kicker: Cousins’ $35 million salary for 2022 becomes guaranteed for injury, skill, and cap on the third day of the 2021 league year.

This means that, to avoid owing Cousins $35 million in 2022, the Vikings will have to unload Cousins before the middle of March 2021. They’d still owe him $21 million for 2021, a year in which the cap may be as low as $175 million. They also would have paid him $61 million for one season under his new deal.

Their only hope to avoid the extra $35 million in financial obligations and to reduce the one-year investment to $40 million comes from a potential trade. Their best hope in that regard would be to get a phone call from the 49ers, if they decide to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo and acquire the quarterback whom 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan had planned to sign as a free agent in 2018, but for the trade that brought Garoppolo to town.

So would the 49ers take on a two-year, $56 million obligation to Cousins? At $28 million per year, that’s a bargain in light of the current market — even with a reduced cap in 2021 due to the pandemic. If, of course, Shanahan still wants Cousins to be the 49ers’ quarterback.

Many will say it’s premature for the Vikings to be thinking about their options with Cousins. Others will say that Cousins’ performances in the team’s first two games are sufficiently abysmal to put the question on the table.

Passer rating of 61.9. Two touchdowns against four interceptions. A pair of safeties prompted by his deer-in-the-headlights reaction to a corner blitz (vs. the Packers) and a quickly-collapsing pocket (at the Colts).

That continues to be the biggest flaw in Cousins’ game. He can run the play that’s called, as long as he has time to run it. When the protection falls apart or a defender otherwise springs free, Cousins can’t pivot to an unscripted play, like some of the best quarterbacks in the league can, and do. Whether it’s a lack of mobility or an inability to improvise, Cousins simply can’t whip up an on-the-fly batch of chicken salad.

Whether the Vikings keep Cousins beyond 2020 ultimately may hinge on how deep the bottom goes. With upcoming games against the Titans, Texans, and Seahawks, 0-2 seems destined to become 0-5 (barring a dramatic turnaround from Week One and Week Two). The question then would become whether the Vikings can hold serve in an empty home stadium against the Falcons in the last game before Minnesota’s bye to avoid taking 0-6 into their annual week off.

If the worst-case scenario happens, there won’t be much the Vikings can do about it, thanks to the various financial rewards handed out after the 2019 season. Still, at that point plenty of Vikings fans will begin clamoring for the team to let what quickly has become a scholarship year run its full course, in order to give the team a shot at Trevor Lawrence.

42 responses to “The Vikings are likely stuck with Kirk Cousins through 2022

  1. Kicking a teams fans when they’re down is difficu…. Fun especially the Vikings fans. Cousins is a QB that needs to throw a lot and doesn’t fit into Zimmermans system. Looks like the Vikings are going to be average at best for the next few years. On the plus side you can watch that Amazing Packers offense roll through the division while the coaches coach up Love for another 15 year run of greatness.

  2. If the Vikings keep playing like they have in the last 2 games Trevor Lawrence will be playing in purple next year.

  3. When the protection falls apart or a defender otherwise springs free, Cousins can’t pivot to an unscripted play


    The protection falls apart almost every passing play….This has been obvious for 3 years, yet management doesnt address the offensive line. They are one of the worst pass protecting lines ive ever seen. If you’re committed to Cousins, then you need to commit to the OL….how hard is this?

  4. Vikings fan born the same year as the franchise, and this was a very fair assessment and analysis. Zimmer and Spielman need to go as well. Gladney over Antoine Winfield, Jr.? Sheesh….

  5. Let’s all raise a glass to that magician, Rick Spielman, for the job he’s doing to make Viking fans’ championship dreams disappear. SKOL!!!!

  6. The Viking fans had loved this contract when it happened as Cousins was supposed to be the engine to the Super Bowl,well how is that going so far.the Vikings are now one of the worst teams in the nfl with cousins and hope does not spring eternal.they can only hope the Packers make Love their new quarterback next year so they can sign Rodgers as starter and keep cousins as backup.

  7. The Vikings aren’t talentless. They will win some games eventually. Cousins can have a great game and then some bad games, it’s who he is.

  8. Based on how much money he makes every kid should practice ignoring the check downs and staring down their receiver.

  9. In all honesty, you can keep Trevor Lawrence…I’d rather have the kid out of NDSU: the best QB most folks have never heard of: Trey Lance.

  10. Did the Vikings really think that this dude was going to host a Lombardi trophy up for them? The whole world can see that he is not it. They might be starting to see it now too.

  11. Just for the record, “all the Vikings fans” were not excited by the original Cousins signing. This was right after Keenum led us almost all the way and many of us wanted to see him continue. The fan base was pretty divided in this regard. Well he flamed out too, so I guess both our options were questionable.

  12. Mind boggling to pay a guy 35 million to throw 15 times a game. Cousins isn’t as efficient as Wilson and needs 40 attempts to masquerade as a pro qb. It’s so funny how many teams think they have a good qb, cousins agent has been doing the sam Bradford trick on teams for a while now. But at least cousins gives an honest days work.

  13. Remember when the Vikings first signed KC and all their fans were bragging that Minni now had the best QB in the Division?!!

    LOL, seems like a lifetime ago, huh?

    Truth is he’s never been much without a strong running game that he can run play-action out of and without prime Jordan Reed – who caught everything an anything KC threw his way … And he threw his way a lot back in the day

  14. I’ve always disliked the concept that you extend the contracts prematurely based on a small sample size of games, case in point, Cousins, Zimmer and Spielman.

    I say, let the current contracts ride out, make them earn it with their play of the field. My guess is the Viking’s ownership was so shocked to actually win a playoff game that they felt compelled to give away the store in recognition of a single playoff win. Most franchises extend contracts after winning a Superbowl but that would be asking too much of this Viking franchise.

  15. How quickly we’ve all forgotten about how Cousins started last year. The first game he only threw 10 passes. The second game he was 14-32 at Green Bay and threw a game-losing interception at the end. The fourth game he led them to a 16-6 loss to the Bears, after which Diggs and Thielen both complained about the offense. Everyone was blaming Cousins and wanted to get rid of him. Over the next 10 games, Cousins completed 72.3% of his passes for 2,746 yards with 22 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Then he finished his regular season with another clunker against Green Bay before having a great playoff game against the Saints. He has an amazing ability to look horrible in one game and then tear it up for a stretch. I expect we’ll see the same thing this year, but the defense will be so bad there won’t be many wins coming out of it.

  16. “The Vikings are likely stuck with Kirk Cousins through 2022”

    Never before have nine words and a number filled Packers fans with such glee, or Vikings fans with so much dread and foreboding.

  17. @ Reclaiming My Time

    Every word you wrote is true. A solid analysis of Kirk Cousins.
    But you best summed up Cousins in one sentence: “He has an amazing ability to look horrible in one game and then tear it up for a stretch.”
    Even if he had a solid defense behind him — in which case he would likely win more games — he’ll never be a dependable winner. Guys who alternate between stretches of stinking up the joint and brilliant play will never lead any team to the promised land. You simply can’t count on them. They’ll either drive you mad, or get your fired.

  18. The best part is the Vikings extended him for two extra years just to free up $10M in cap money this season. Brilliant.

  19. Yes Cousins has been horrible, but it’s not all his fault. This is who cousins has been since he was in Washington. This was the guy that was benched for Colt McCoy. When they signed him, it was really the best option they had, Spielman was never going to draft high that year, who knows if Lamar Jackson was even on his draft board.

    The most confusing part is how Cousins continues getting these huge paydays? Washington franchised him, then the Vikes gave him a fully guaranteed contract, which right away set the bar super high, and his first season was nothing special, and his second season started bad as well, but ended good because of other factors. How does that deserve a huge extension?

  20. Trade him to SF for picks, and with all the picks we will have from finishing last in the NFL, Rick can really screw up!

  21. I never thought Cousins was that good, but didn’t think he was that bad, either. Isn’t the idea of the Vikings that Cousins will just be good enough and the rest of the team will basically get them to the Superbowl? Yikes. I have to think he will revert back to being more mediocre, but if not…

  22. See it thru this year and if it keeps going where we think it is then TRADE!! A bad trade is better than a bad player. This year is already fubar, no sense in making a rash decision.

  23. With any luck he’ll stick around after his contract expires and continue to be the starting quarterback for league minimum……just for the privilege.

  24. While I agree that giving Cousins the franchise, was a very poorly made decision, it is not all his fault. The other elephant in the room is that abysmal O-line. They are similar to a brand new Dyson vacuum cleaner. They both suck. Cousins has had flashes of brilliance, the same cannot be said for Minnesota’s O line.

  25. Couldn’t the Vikings do a deal similar to what the Texans did to unload Brock Osweiler? Basically pay someone else to take him off your hands. Maybe they could trade him and agree to pay a portion of his salary. In any event, Cousins has got to go!!

  26. Doesn’t matter with their offensive and defensive lines and injuries. Keep Cousins (no choice) but draft his replacement, but Pleeeease no Ponder type reaches please.

  27. 3 INT’s…with how many passing yards? Typical Kirk, but hey, that just means he’ll have another excellent performance in his next game. Maybe two in a row. Then he’ll revert to being Cousins again… marching the team down the field to close to the red zone where he’ll throw another pick or fumble the ball away. Repeat this pattern through 2021. We were soooooo glad to get rid of him in Washington and laughed at how much the Vikes paid for this at best average QB. He was great in college. Gotta hand it to him. He beat us four years in a row, but in the NFL? Not so hot. A couple of “You like dat?” games sprinkled in between mostly lousy performances. But hey… he won one playoff game so keep extending him. Still laughing out loud here….

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