Kirk Cousins holds all the contractual cards in Minnesota

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions
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Kirk Cousins has plenty of leverage now. He’ll have even more later — and that’s when he apparently intends to use it.

In a recent visit to PFT PM, Cousins made two things clear about his future with the Vikings. First, he wants to finish his career in Minnesota. Second, he’s content to play out the two remaining years of his contract. That necessarily makes his status beyond 2022 with the Vikings uncertain.

“I want to be with the Vikings for as long as they’ll have me and as long as I can play football,” Cousins said. “As far as how long I play, it’s so year to year. We’ve seen so much change happen in this league when you just look back a year ago to now. I’m sure a year from now will be no different. Tom Brady, Drew Brees have set the bar so high playing into their early 40s. I don’t know that I want to play that long, but I do think that to be able to play into your late 30s and to play long enough for my two young boys — I’ve got two boys, Cooper and Turner. They’re only three and almost two. I’d like to play long enough where they can come to practice, watch me play, and really remember it and appreciate it. I got a few more years to be able to do that.”

Still, Cousins currently has only two years under contract. Given that a $35 million base salary for 2022 becomes fully guaranteed on March 19, it could make sense to extend the contract now. It makes much more sense next year. Cousins sounds like he’s not willing to do a new deal in either offseason.

“Honestly, I just signed the extension last offseason and it really doesn’t kick in ’til this coming year,” Cousins said. “It’s a two-year deal. Those two years begin with 2021. . . . I think it’s more about going out there next season and the year after that and playing at a high enough level that would justify being able to do another deal beyond that. That’s really where my focus is. As I said earlier, would like to be a Viking for the remainder of my career. I’ve got to play well enough to make that happen.”

Cousins’ current deal doesn’t have a no-tag clause. But he doesn’t need one. With a cap number of $45 million in 2022 and with the franchise-tag rule guaranteeing him a 44-percent bump for 2023 (the two applications of the franchise tag by Washington carry over for the purposes of triggering the ultra-expensive third franchise tag), it would cost the Vikings $64.8 million to apply the franchise tag after his contract expires.

In other words, Cousins — who maximized his leverage by playing on a year-to-year basis in 2015, 2016, and 2017 in Washington — sounds willing to make $56 million over the next two years and then hit the open market, or to negotiate his next contract with the Vikings knowing that he has a guaranteed path to the open market if the Vikings don’t offer him what he wants.

This mindset gives the Vikings even more reason to consider trading him, frankly. However, coach Mike Zimmer needs Cousins, because without Cousins the Vikings would likely take the kind of step backward that would increase the likelihood that Zimmer won’t last beyond 2021.

68 responses to “Kirk Cousins holds all the contractual cards in Minnesota

  1. The worst mistake the Vikings have made in a long time was to extend Zimmer, Cousins and Spielman last off season. They should have started a full
    rebuild after the 2019 season.

  2. I say this as a Bills fan with no skin in the game but what a mess that front office has caused with Cousins contracts. Zimmer seems doomed either way.

  3. This guy has made more money than any incredibly average quarterback in the history of the league. He surely has a career in sales when his football career is over.

  4. Which is why the Vikings NEED to draft a legitimate QB prospect this year or next. Otherwise they will have zero leverage 2023 if Kirk keeps being Kirk(great numbers but lacking that “it” factor).

  5. The Vikes and the Bears:

    Should: Blow it all up and rebuild because at best they’ll be a fringe playoff team if they “make a run.”

    Will: Think they’re a few players away, make deals and sign players, be fringe playoff teams and have it to blow it up eventually anyway.

    But hey, at least the Bears won an NFC Title in the past 15 years. It’s been 45 for the Vikes.

  6. He has been betting on himself for the last few years and it has been working well. Sounds like he intends to keep doing it.

  7. Bunch of comments about the team and what a mediocre QB he is.

    The focus should be on what a stud Captain Kirk is for betting on himself. It takes a lot of self-confidence to turn down guaranteed millions for the opportunity to make even more guaranteed millions. Would you turn down guaranteed $30 million to maybe make $80 million later? There’s a reason Kirk seems to be unique in how he handles his contracts. I hope he keeps squeezes every penny from the team(s) that he can. NFL teams do everything they can to burn guys financially. It’s refreshing to see someone do it back to them when the risk that he’s carrying is so high.

  8. > This guy has made more money than any incredibly average quarterback in the history of the league. He surely has a career in sales when his football career is over.

    Joe Flacco says “I’ve been a lot less than average and made a lot more than that dummy Kirk”

  9. Whatever Cousins is selling the NFL keeps buying. WA cost themselves by tagging him two years in a row and they also drastically inflated the QB market by doing so.

    Hey, remember when Osweiler went to Houston and they were ridiculed for paying him $17 million per season? Doesn’t that seem quaint how? THAT WAS 2016!

  10. Kirk is an average QB at best. Will never understand why Vikings management let him hold all the leverage. More years of mediocrity. Spielman must go!

  11. New contract? He may be out of the league by then. Has enough money to just walk away. For sure the Vikings aren’t going anywhere. And he is not exactly the guy you would look into trading for.

  12. The Vikings are setting themselves up to be a competitive 2nd or 3rd place team. That will make the owner lots of money. I’m not sure every owner is in it to win Super Bowls. If they were, they’d keep trying until they found an elite QB. If a guy is good enough to make over $30 million a year, he must be pretty good, but the super bowl is reserved for the elite. Not the pretty good. But in reality, only one team wins and 31 teams lose. Maybe some owners think that it’s not realistic to shoot for the super bowl, so why even try. As long as the fans keep spending their money, nothing is going to change. The Vikings have a very loyal fan base. I don’t think they’re going away anytime soon. Now, if Green Bay starts winning Super Bowls, Vikings fans might get a little more vocal, but they’ll support their team.

  13. I’d like to actually see what Cousins could do behind an above average o-line first. Hard to think of many top-tier pocket passers who could do more than what Cousins has accomplished behind that swiss-cheese semblance of an o-line that he’s had to deal with since arriving in MN.

  14. cheeseburger says:
    February 6, 2021 at 10:01 am
    Kirk Cousins is the Sam Bradford of Case Keenums….

    ______________

    As of Bradford and Cousins, it’s like, the more they choke, the more money they make.

  15. The Vikings are right behind the Rams in the Cliffs Notes versions of how to really screw up your team compounding mistakes on QBs…

  16. Joe Flacco has won a Super Bowl and has an overall winning record as a starter. Kurt is mediocre on his best days.

  17. Why would they extend him? He’s not worth $35M so why would they give him even more money. They’d be better off drafting a guy who wants to win instead of extending a guy who is only concerned with how much money he can squeeze out of a team.

  18. ravens07
    The statistic regarding his performance dont agree with you.
    But who cares about facts, eh?

  19. wooster019 says:
    February 6, 2021 at 10:53 am
    I’d like to actually see what Cousins could do behind an above average o-line first. Hard to think of many top-tier pocket passers who could do more than what Cousins has accomplished behind that swiss-cheese semblance of an o-line that he’s had to deal with since arriving in MN.

    ——-

    That’s the brilliance of Kirk Cousins. He plays just well enough to make people believe he isn’t the problem. In DC he had an above average line and people wondered what he could do with a great defense. Then he went to Minnesota with their great defense and the problem became the line. The same defense in DC got better when Alex Smith came in and just played efficiently with turning the ball over, while the Vikings D fell of a cliff when Kirk came in. This is not a coincidence.

  20. A Joe Flacco comparison?? . . . Joe Flacco?? . . . doesn’t Joe Flacco have a super bowl ring????

  21. wooster019 says:
    February 6, 2021 at 10:53 am

    I’d like to actually see what Cousins could do behind an above average o-line first. Hard to think of many top-tier pocket passers who could do more than what Cousins has accomplished behind that swiss-cheese semblance of an o-line that he’s had to deal with since arriving in MN.
    /////////////////////////////////////
    Just wondering, could you please name a quarterback that can’t do good behind an above average o-line?

  22. Right on edouble:

    “That’s the brilliance of Kirk Cousins. He plays just well enough to make people believe he isn’t the problem.”

    And I would add that his enticing garbage stats always found a way to convince people he has a high ceiling.

  23. Someone needs to finally call his bluff. Overpaid and average. Let him walk. Enough of the franchise tag. Most of his stats are padded when playing from behind or in garbage time.

  24. People really need to stop giving Kirk Cousins so much credit for his current situation, it’s not very difficult to pull one over on that incredibly stupid Viking brain trust.
    Especially when they continuously fail to give themselves any other options or leverage.

    How do you think the Cousins became a Viking in the first place?
    Without a single QB under contract by these imbeciles and free agent options almost nil, Kirk had them over a barrel.
    He parlayed faint interest from the Jets and squeezed a few more guaranteed millions out of them.
    Just embarrassing.
    And the process keeps repeating itself.
    And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving fan base. 🤣

  25. Cousin’s stats – There’s no stat for a Pick 6 to start the game. It’s just an interception, it doesn’t at all say how it sets the tone for a team, especially a running team.

    0-3 on passes are just stats too, it doesn’t capture that those 0-3 on passes were in the last 4 minutes of the game down by 5.

    That’s Kirk Cousins.

  26. The Vikings paid him to bring a championship. Not only did that not happen, but the longer he stays, the more the future is damaged.

    And as a Packers fan, I’m fine with all of it.

  27. It all goes back to that Vikings vs buccaneers game when the Vikings were 6-6 and the league screwed them over in favor of brady’s team like usual and that was the downfall. Cousins can’t control Goodell.

  28. I just don’t get why the media tries so hard to convince the rest of us that Cousins is a legit starting QB in the NFL.

    He sucks. He’s a phone. As a QB and as a person. NOBODY on Washington or Minnesota wanted to play hard for him. And he’s a turnover machine who pads his stats in garbage time.

    Cousins is almost guaranteed to get you just above or below .500. Why would any team stick with that as their leader, and commit an insane amount of cap space to boot??????????

  29. I just don’t get why the media tries so hard to convince the rest of us that Cousins is a legit starting QB in the NFL.

    He sucks. He’s a phony. As a QB and as a person. NOBODY on Washington or Minnesota wanted to play hard for him. And he’s a turnover machine who pads his stats in garbage time.

    Cousins is almost guaranteed to get you just above or below .500. Why would any team stick with that as their leader, and commit an insane amount of cap space to boot??????????

  30. The Vikings would have made the playoffs in 2018 if they’d kept Keenum. They were on a roll in 2017, and it was not the time to interfere with the momentum they had. Then came the high cost, blockbuster signing of the greatest average QB of the decade, who already showed the world that you can make a fortune in this league with garbage stats and good media management. They missed the playoff in 2018. Garbage stats and money kept piling on, media pressure mounted, and captain Kirk finally delivered in 2019. Only to miss the playoffs again in 2020.

  31. Interesting to watch the dynamic when teams make decisions (players and $) and players (and agents) make decisions (Teams and $).

    And themn we get to whatch what happens.

    Every year:
    We read about players who are unhappy while out performing their contract. Ie Team made good decisions (W/$; Performance and $)
    and
    We read about Teams who are unhappy while the Team is under preforming the sum of their contracts (W/$). Ie Players made good decisions (Performance and $)

  32. “In DC he had an above average line and people wondered what he could do with a great defense. … The same defense in DC got better when Alex Smith came in and just played efficiently with turning the ball over”
    ________________

    Sorry, but Washington has added quite a few impact players to their defense since Kirk left. At every level. It is NOT the same defense, but the WFT defense did carry Alex Smith this year.

  33. He’s a top 10 QB with the worst pass blockers in the nfl. Not sure why people love ripping this guy. His average salary is right where you would expect given that QBs are now jumping to $40 million per year averages.

  34. Nice to see that focus on family. It’s not uncommon but you don’t see that everywhere.

  35. When Cousins was drafted I felt sorry for him, since Washington had selected RGIII with their first pick, but boy – have the cards ever fallen right for him … I have to tip my Packer hat to the dude … the guy is amassing a fortune.

    This will be the perfect year for the Vikes to spend a high pick on a young quarterback, and let him sit for two years learning behind Cousins – that will put them in a better bargaining position and it’ll do wonders for their salary cap down the road.

    If they don’t – that means in two years they’ll be signing another team’s retread – which seems to be their way of doing business. Some of their retreads from the past include Sam Bradford, Matt Cassel, Donovan McNabb, Jeff George, Randall Cunningham, Brad Johnson, Warren Moon, Archie Manning, Jim McMahon and of course, our own lovely Brett Favre.

    Should be an interesting Draft Day decision for the Vikes.

  36. He’s a decent game-manager but will never be a game-changer. Never. Not even if they decide to make him the highest paid quarterback in the league. Again.

  37. Could we ever get a quarterback who’d win just one super bowl? Just one, please . . .

  38. Cousins has made a lot of money being mediocre. His stats keep him paid, but the game tape (and the W/L column) ain’t lying. I hope after his contract ends he can resume his proper role on the bench. He’s maybe one of the best backups I’ve seen in a while. I said maybe. And “one of.”

  39. Kirk Cousins is the Sam Bradford of Case Keenums….

    _____________________________

    Literally made me laugh out loud…………….

  40. The guy is #6 in career passer rating, behind people like Mahomes, Watson, Rodgers, Brees, and Wilson. There is some talent there to be mined with the right coach and offense. Vikings may figure it out yet.

    But I would rate him #1 or #2 in managing his career. Stafford is up there too, with $226M career earnings from Detroit (and another $50M coming over the next two years).

  41. Haters! KC is a top 10 qb that could be top 5 with an above average line and a more aggressive coach. Give a top 15 defense to go with that and the Vikings will win at least 11 games a season. And we already know from last season that he is clutch when it counts most.

  42. He only holds leverage because the Vikes won’t take the hit. He doesn’t have leverage in my world because I would take the hit. The guy is average at best – at best – and QBs of his caliber are frankly a dime a dozen. Now, the idea is not to get a QB of his caliber so that dime went significantly up. But as a business man I say sometimes it’s best to admit the mistake, take the hit, and move on. He is just not any good.

  43. Blah blah blah. This is canned language. Players want to play forever with their team. Until they don’t. GM’s want a player forever. And then trade him or cut him the next week. It’s just leverage. Remember folks, this is a business to all involved, except the fans.

  44. Of course, all the commenters just “know” Cousins is average, can’t win, is overpaid, etc. What they fail to acknowledge is that he’s top 6 in QB’s for the past 10 years. Go ahead, look at the stats. You’ll state Stafford needs a better team around him while also saying Cousins has failed to carry his team and bad O-line. As always, the lesson is; never listen to Packer fans.

  45. snowlock2013 says:
    February 6, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    0-3 on passes are just stats too, it doesn’t capture that those 0-3 on passes were in the last 4 minutes of the game down by 5.

    That’s Kirk Cousins
    /////////
    Actually, you just described Aaron Rodgers in the NFCCG.

  46. The same defense in DC got better when Alex Smith came in and just played efficiently with turning the ball over, while the Vikings D fell of a cliff when Kirk came in. This is not a coincidence.
    ///////
    To the genius that wrote this….the WFT is 17-31 since Cousins left. So, who here is going to tell us that Cousins was the problem there?

  47. The Vikings offense had its second best season in franchise history for points scored this season. Cousins stats and playing were absolutely amazing the last 10-11 games. Yes, he threw too many picks in the first five games. Any idea why? I know. It’s because his O-line is horrible at pass blocking, and the defense was giving up 35 points a game.

    The WFT has been abysmal since he left. 17-31. And did somebody seriously say Keenum should have stayed? The dude doesn’t have 5 wins since the Vikings moved on. Is he even still in the league?

  48. Cousins is an effective game-manager. He never was and never will be a game-changer.

  49. The Vikings blew it with this guy.They bought into the hype by the media that Cousins was the best QB available at the time.He’s average and would be better suited as a backup

  50. Alex Smith’s compiled record in Washington 11-5. Kirk was the problem. he had DJax, Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed all in their prime.

  51. The Vikings offense scored plenty of points. Like Cousins or not, the problem this year was the defense who couldn’t stop anyone. Don’t hate on Cousins for having a great agent. Overall he has performed well. But a weak offensive line and a terrible defense isn’t going to make a QB look special.

  52. Yet nobody here disputes his 2020 stats. It’s a fluke you say? Playoff record is a personal stat and not a team stat? Give me them thumbs down my people.

  53. He should become an agent after he retires. Every player in the league will be thinking “If that guy can negotiate for me like he did for himself, I’ll be a billionaire when I’m done”.

  54. Alan Light says:
    February 6, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    But unlike Rodgers, Kirk can beat winning teams in the 4th quarter…

    +++++

    Apparently the Vikings play lots of losing teams cuz he’s only 25-21 since being given all the contractual cards. Twice.

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