Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins Wants To Remain With Vikings

The Vikings’ quarterback situation beyond 2023 remains a key talking point, since Kirk Cousins is entering the final year of his contract. If the veteran signal-caller has his way, the coming season will not be he last with the team.

“I want to be in Minnesota,” Cousins said, via ESPN’s Kevin SeifertThat’s kind of a no-brainer. Hopefully, we can earn the right to do that.”

Cousins, 34, will carry a cap hit of $20.25MM this year, after he agreed to a simple restructure of his contract. That came in place of another extension, leading to speculation regarding the Vikings’ potential to select a potential successor in the draft. That didn’t come to fruition, however, and the team remains open to another deal in the future.

The former fourth-rounder has done quite well for himself financially while playing on short-term contracts throughout his career. Cousins has remained consistent in his performances with the Vikings, and earned his second straight (and fourth overall) Pro Bowl nod in 2022. He helped guide an offense which ranked seventh in yardage and eighth in scoring en route to a 13-4 record, but Minnesota fell short in the first round of the playoffs. That extended their (and Cousins’) postseason struggles and the presumed upside of moving in a different direction under center next year.

Cousins would represent a notable free agent if he were to hit the market, and Minnesota’s continued strength (at least on the offensive side of the ball) suggests a repeat of last year’s record could be in reach. That could take the Vikings out of contention for one of the top passers in what is expected to be a celebrated 2024 QB draft class. A new Cousins contract could also alter the $28.5MM cap hit he is scheduled for as a result of void years on his current deal. He would welcome the opportunity to continue his Vikings tenure beyond what will be its sixth year in no small part due to his confidence in his ability to remain productive deep into his career.

“I’m encouraged and excited,” Cousins added, “because I do feel like I’ve got a lot of good football ahead of me.”

Vikings Not Ruling Out Another Kirk Cousins Extension

The Vikings participated in the Day 3 run on quarterbacks, taking BYU’s Jaren Hall in Round 5. But two years after making an effort to trade up for Justin Fields, Minnesota does not look to have a true Kirk Cousins heir apparent.

GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah scouted Hall in-person but declined to say if the 25-year-old rookie could be a potential Cousins successor. The Vikings discussed another extension with Cousins, but the sides ended up reaching a restructure agreement in March. After signing three Vikings contracts (in 2018, 2020 and 2022), Cousins is due for free agency after this season. The Vikings are not closing the door on another Cousins contract.

When you go into a contract negotiation, you’re trying to come up with solutions together,” Adofo-Mensah said, via ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. “It’s not just what Kwesi wants or what the Vikings want or what Kirk wants. It’s what we can do together to ultimately put up that Lombardi. Sometimes you come to a place where you decide, ‘Hey, let’s talk later. This is a solution for now.’ That’s all that’s happened.”

Entering his sixth year as the Vikings’ starter, Cousins made it to the Twin Cities because of the unique leverage his two Washington franchise tags created. Cousins parlayed that into a fully guaranteed deal (three years, $84MM) that accelerated a QB-market boom. He later signed a two-year, $66MM deal in 2020 and agreed to a one-year, $35MM bump in 2022. Both the latter accords reduced Cousins’ cap number. This year’s restructure did the same; Cousins counts $20.25MM on Minnesota’s 2023 cap. But, excluding void years, the 12th-year passer is unsigned beyond 2023.

Being 2-for-5 in playoff appearances with the Vikings and having won one career postseason game, Cousins has still been one of this era’s premier earners. Exiting the 2022 season, he has banked $201MM. The skyrocketing QB market would make him an interesting player next year, but the Vikings have exclusive negotiating rights until next March.

As a mid-30-something QB on the market — should he reach free agency for a second time — Cousins will not carry the same kind of value he did back in 2018. But a quality season — one in which T.J. Hockenson and first-round pick Jordan Addison will be in the fold come Week 1 — would still make him a viable commodity, in the event the Vikings do not use their exclusive negotiating rights to reach a fourth agreement with Cousins before next year’s legal tampering period.

We like where we are at the quarterback position,” Adofo-Mensah said. “But every option is open to us going forward. We’re just really excited about Kirk this year. The weapons we’ve added in free agency, the weapons we added in the draft [will help], and we’ll see what happens after that.”

The franchise tag might not be a viable option for the Vikings, and Cousins may not be worthy of such a designation by next year. Drew Brees won a grievance regarding the tag in 2012, indicating that, despite being tagged by two teams in nonconsecutive years (2005, 2012), a third tag should still come in at 144% of his previous year’s salary. No player has been tagged three times since the Jaguars cuffed safety Donovin Darius from 2003-05. Subsequent CBAs, however, have contained language — the 144% component — that effectively prevents a third tag.

On less steady ground with the Titans, Ryan Tannehill is the other experienced starter on track for free agency in 2024. Though, as the 2020s QB trade markets have illustrated, more will likely be available. Cousins’ Minnesota status will obviously be worth monitoring ahead of that point.

Restructure Details: Cousins, Bills, Cowboys, Saints, Warner, Jets, Texans

Facing a Kirk Cousins cap crunch last year, the Vikings worked out a third contract with their starting quarterback. They did not take that path this year. Minnesota instead agreed to a restructure, per’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The reworking frees up $16MM in cap space for the Vikings, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert tweets. The Vikes look to have tacked on two more void years to Cousins’ deal. While the void years — for cap-reducing purposes — run through 2027, Cousins’ contract expires after the 2023 season. No extension is imminent.

The 34-year-old passer has enjoyed leverage throughout his Vikings relationship — via his free agency in 2018, ahead of his 2020 contract year on that fully guaranteed deal, and in 2022 as his second Vikes pact was set to produce a historic cap hit — but Minnesota’s new regime may now be looking toward moving on after the season. This will be a situation to monitor moving forward; Cousins has not played in a contract year since his 2017 Washington finale.

Here is the latest on teams’ restructures:

  • The Bills moved close to the 2023 league year in a cap hole, but they restructured the deals of their two highest-profile players to create considerable space. Buffalo reworked Josh Allen and Von Miller‘s contracts to create approximately $32MM in space, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. The Bills have moved their way up past $8MM in cap room.
  • Per usual, the Saints have been hard at work on restructures. They adjusted the deals of Cameron Jordan, Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore to create cap space, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Katherine Terrell (all Twitter links). The Jordan move created more than $10MM in cap space for New Orleans, which was back to being north of $20MM over the cap following its Derek Carr signing. As the league year begins, New Orleans made it under the cap by just more than $300K.
  • In addition to restructuring Tyron Smith‘s deal to ensure the All-Decade tackle plays a 13th season with the team, the Cowboys adjusted the contracts of DeMarcus Lawrence and Michael Gallup, Todd Archer of notes (Twitter links). Between them, the Lawrence and Gallup restructures freed up around $16MM for Dallas, which had already created more than $30MM in space by redoing Dak Prescott and Zack Martin‘s deals last week.
  • The 49ers restructured Fred Warner‘s extension, according to Yates (on Twitter). The move created nearly $9MM in cap space for San Francisco, which gave Javon Hargrave a four-year, $84MM deal to start the legal tampering period. A void year now exists in Warner’s contract, which runs through 2026 (with the void year coming in 2027). Warner’s cap number drops to $9MM but spikes past $24MM in 2024, which will probably prompt more maneuvering from the 49ers. They currently hold just more than $12MM in cap space.
  • Circling back to the Vikings, Jordan Hicks agreed to a restructure that will keep him in Minnesota this season,’s Adam Caplan tweets. Hicks signed a two-year, $10MM deal with the Vikings last year.
  • Amid their Aaron Rodgers pursuit, the Jets created $4.8MM in cap space by restructuring John Franklin-Myers‘ contract, Yates tweets. Two void years are attached to the defensive lineman’s pact, which runs through 2025.
  • Texans safety Eric Murray agreed to a restructured deal as well, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 notes. Attached to a two-year, $10MM deal he signed in 2022, Murray remains on a Texans team that has seen its roster become crowded at safety. The team has added Jimmie Ward and re-signed M.J. Stewart this week. Murray played 17 games for the Texans last season but did not start any. This sounds like a pay-cut agreement, with Wilson adding Murray can make up to $4MM this season.

No Extension Imminent For QB Kirk Cousins In Minnesota

As we prepare for the madness of free agency at the opening of the new league year, the Vikings are also attempting to keep their quarterback off of the free agent market for next year. According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, it’s looking more and more likely that Kirk Cousins will be testing free agency a year from now.

A year ago, the Vikings ensured they would have Cousins under contract through the 2023 season by extending his existing two-year deal an additional season. In each of the two years of that original deal, Cousins held a cap hit of just over $31MM. The additional season sees him once again with an egregious cap hit of $36.25MM.

With those hefty hits on the salary cap, the Vikings are attempting to work with Cousins to figure out an extension that could benefit both parties, earning Cousins a payday while relieving some of the cap pressure on the team. Garafolo’s reports indicates that, as of right now, no deal appears to be imminent.

The team is working with a soft deadline by which they would prefer to have an extension done. Cousins’s current contract includes a 2023 roster bonus of $20MM that becomes guaranteed this week. He’ll be paid $15MM of the bonus next week with the remaining $5MM to be paid out in September. The existing deal also holds two automatically voided years that carry $18.75MM of cap hits into 2024 and 2025.

With no momentum towards a new deal getting done, it’s looking like Cousins intends to play out the last year of his contract, flirting with the idea of free agency this time next year. Minnesota will likely continue to try to work something out, as they are currently near the bottom of the league in cap space for the 2023 season. A failure to reach a new extension with Cousins will make things difficult for the Vikings as we approach the start of free agency.

Vikings Express Support For Kirk Cousins As 2023 Starter

The Vikings’ early playoff exit came as a surprise to many given the team’s success in the regular season, and it has already led to the dismissal of defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. While plenty of questions remain for his former unit, the team’s offense has plenty of pieces in place to give them optimism for repeated success in 2023.

One key member of the offense, quarterback Kirk Cousins, is on the books for next year and received a vote of confidence from the team’s new power brokers at their season-ending press conference regarding his status heading into next year. The 34-year-old’s financial situation could change in the near future, but he is slated to remain at the top of the depth chart.

“It’s our expectation that he’ll be our quarterback,” general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press“I can’t say exactly how [his contract status] would look. Again, we have everything at our disposal. We’ll consider all those things just like we would with everyone else on the roster

Cousins inked a one-year, $35MM extension last March to keep him signed for the 2023 campaign. The deal helped lower his cap hit dramatically, though the new figure ($31.42MM) still ranked third amongst all players this season. As a result of the new contract, Cousins is slated to count for $36.25MM against the cap in 2023, and another $12.5MM the following season through a void year.

The four-time Pro Bowler earned a second straight all-star game selection this season, one in which he threw for 4,547 yards (the second-highest total in his career), and 29 touchdowns. His play helped lead the team to a 13-4 record (including 11-0 in one-possession games), making the first season under head coach Kevin O’Connell a success.

The latter echoed Adofo-Mensah’s support of Cousins, saying he was impressed with his “ownership” of the team’s new offensive system. That will inevitably lead to expectations for a repeat of this season’s performance and efficiency on that side of the ball – the Vikings ranked top-10 in both scoring and total offense – with Cousins no doubt playing a large role in the unit’s level of play.

Of course, any moves Minnesota makes this offseason will come not only against the backdrop of Cousins’ deal, but also that of Justin Jefferson being eligible for an extension. Adofo-Mensah added that preliminary talks have taken place regarding what will no doubt be a monster deal for the star wideout. Regardless of the progress made on that front in the near future, both Jefferson and Cousins will be in place to lead Minnesota’s offense in 2023.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Offense

After the COVID-19 pandemic led to the second reduction in NFL salary cap history last year, the 2022 cap made a record jump. This year’s salary ceiling ($208.2MM) checks in $25.7MM north of the 2021 figure.

While quarterbacks’ salaries will continue to lead the way, a handful of blockers and skill-position players carry sizable cap numbers for 2022. A few of the quarterbacks that lead the way this year may not be tied to those numbers once the regular season begins. The 49ers, Browns and Ravens have made efforts to alter these figures via trades or extensions.

Here are the top 2022 salary cap hits on the offensive side of the ball:

  1. Ryan Tannehill, QB (Titans): $38.6MM
  2. Patrick Mahomes, QB (Chiefs): $35.79MM
  3. Kirk Cousins, QB (Vikings): $31.42MM
  4. Jared Goff, QB (Lions): $31.15MM
  5. Aaron Rodgers, QB (Packers): $28.53MM
  6. Carson Wentz, QB (Commanders): $28.29MM
  7. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (49ers): $26.95MM
  8. Russell Wilson, QB (Broncos): $24MM
  9. Lamar Jackson, QB (Ravens): $23.02MM
  10. Kenny Golladay, WR (Giants): $21.2MM
  11. Garett Bolles, T (Broncos): $21MM
  12. Dak Prescott, QB (Cowboys): $19.73MM
  13. Derek Carr, QB (Raiders): $19.38MM
  14. D.J. Humphries, T (Cardinals): $19.33MM
  15. Keenan Allen, WR (Chargers): $19.2MM
  16. Taylor Decker, T (Lions): $18.9MM
  17. Sam Darnold, QB (Panthers): 18.89MM
  18. Baker Mayfield, QB (Browns): $18.89MM
  19. Matt Ryan, QB (Colts): $18.7MM
  20. Ronnie Stanley, T (Ravens): $18.55MM
  21. Donovan Smith, T (Buccaneers): $18.4MM
  22. Ezekiel Elliott, RB (Cowboys): $18.22MM
  23. DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Cardinals): $17.95MM
  24. Cooper Kupp, WR (Rams): $17.8MM
  25. Laremy Tunsil, T (Texans): $17.71MM
  • The Chiefs’ cap sheet looks a bit different this year, with Tyreek Hill and Tyrann Mathieu off the roster. But Mahomes’ cap number rockets from $7.4MM in 2021 to the league’s second-largest figure in 2022. This marks the first time Mahomes’ 10-year contract is set to count more than $10MM toward Kansas City’s cap, with the AFC West champs not yet restructuring the deal this year.
  • Tied to a few lucrative extensions since relocating to Minnesota, Cousins’ third Vikings deal dropped his cap number from $45MM. The fifth-year Vikings QB’s cap number is set to climb past $36MM in 2023.
  • Prior to negotiating his landmark extension in March, Rodgers was set to count more than $46MM on the Packers’ payroll.
  • The 49ers are aiming to move Garoppolo’s nonguaranteed money off their payroll. That figure becomes guaranteed in Week 1, providing a key date for the franchise. San Francisco is prepared to let Garoppolo negotiate contract adjustments with other teams to facilitate a trade.
  • Wilson counts $26MM on the Seahawks’ 2022 payroll, due to the dead money the NFC West franchise incurred by trading its 10-year starter in March.
  • Jackson, Darnold and Mayfield are attached to fifth-year option salaries. Jackson’s is higher due to the former MVP having made two Pro Bowls compared to his 2018 first-round peers’ zero. The 2020 CBA separated fifth-year option values by playing time and accomplishments. The Browns and Panthers have engaged in off-and-on negotiations on divvying up Mayfield’s salary for months, while a Jackson extension remains on the radar.
  • Golladay’s cap number jumped from $4.47MM last year to the highest non-quarterback figure among offensive players. The Giants wideout’s four-year deal calls for $21MM-plus cap hits from 2023-24.
  • Prior to being traded to the Colts, who adjusted their new starter’s contract, Ryan was set to carry an NFL-record $48MM cap hit this year. The Falcons are carrying a league-record $40.5MM dead-money charge after dealing their 14-year starter.
  • The Texans restructured Tunsil’s deal in March, dropping his 2022 cap hit from $26.6MM to its present figure. Because of the adjustment, Tunsil’s 2023 cap number resides at $35.2MM

Contract information courtesy of Over The Cap 

NFC North Notes: Vikings Front Office Hire, Hundley, Jones, Alexander

New Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made a noteworthy addition to his staff earlier this week. The team announced the hiring of Demitrius Washington as their new vice president of football operations.

Washington had spent seven years with the 49ers, a stretch which overlapped with Adofo-Mensah’s time in that organization. For the past two seasons, Washington served as San Francisco’s director of research and development, the same title Adofo-Mensah held with the Browns prior to his hire. The pair will now reunite and, along with new head coach Kevin O’Connell, oversee the franchise’s transition from the previous Rick Spielman-Mike Zimmer regime.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC North, starting with one more from Minnesota:

  • The Vikings brought in veteran backup quarterback Brett Hundley as a tryout during rookie minicamp, but they made it clear they would not be signing him, as noted by Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. The 28-year-old hasn’t made a regular season appearance since 2019, most recently spending time with the Colts. Minnesota’s QB room currently consists of Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond, Sean Mannion and Nate Stanley.
  • The Bears used one of their 11 picks in last month’s draft to add to its receiving corps, selecting Velus Jones in the third round. The team is high on his speed and versatility, leading to the new coaching staff having “big plans” for the 25-year-old. “Let’s start out at receiver and then let’s see what he can do, moving him around to different spots and getting him the ball, because he is an explosive athlete” head coach Matt Eberflus said, via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. After transferring from USC to Tennessee, Jones produced both on offense and special teams, recording 807 receiving yards and leading the SEC in both punt and kick return yardage in 2021.
  • An interesting note came out in the aftermath of Jaire Alexander‘s record-breaking extension with the Packers. USA Today’s Josina Anderson reports (on Twitter) that the Pro Bowler specifically wanted a four-year (rather than five-year) deal. He got just that, helping him to break the record briefly held by Denzel Ward for the highest annual average amongst cornerbacks at $21MM per season, and keeping him under contract through 2026.

NFC Notes: Packers, Cousins, Seahawks, Kaepernick

Following the mass exodus of the Packers’ staff this offseason, longtime NFL quarterbacks coach Tom Clements received a phone call from his old player, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, as reported by Ryan Wood of Packers News.

Rodgers had just watched the dissolution of the Packers’ 2021 coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett departed to Denver for a head coaching position. Passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy took an offensive coordinator job for the rival Bears.

Clements was enjoying retirement, looking forward to heading into Year 2 of armchair quarterbacking like the rest of us. Clements claimed he “didn’t have the itch to come back,” but after conversations with Rodgers and Packers head coach Matt LeFleur, Clements found himself back in the NFL, returning to his longest tenured home from his first stint in coaching.

Here are a few other notes from around the NFC, starting with another note from the North:

  • Following a shiny new deal from the Vikings, quarterback Kirk Cousins appears content to finish his NFL career in Minnesota, according to The Athletic’s Chad Graff. Cousins certainly didn’t need an early extension. He set an example years ago for how a player can bet on himself, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to be franchise-tagged in consecutive years then signing the league’s first ever (and highest at the time) fully-guaranteed contract. Despite this history, Cousins agreed to a deal that freed up some cap space for Minnesota. When asked why he agreed to this deal, Cousins simply stated, “The short answer is: I want to be a Minnesota Viking.”
  • Jason La Canfora wrote a piece Friday asserting his belief that two quarterbacks will go in the Top 10 picks of the 2022 NFL Draft, notably that he expects Atlanta and Carolina to select one of Liberty’s Malik Willis or Pitt’s Kenny Pickett. If either NFC South franchise ends up addressing another position, though, La Canfora expects Seattle to fulfill his prediction with the No. 9 overall pick. Should neither quarterback be available to the Seahawks, several executives believe that Seattle would trade back, allowing teams who are hungry to select a specific prospect to relinquish some of their draft capital while keeping alive the Seahawks ability to draft a value-player without reaching.
  • Should Seattle not find a quarterback in the Draft, one option they’ve kicked the tires on is former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick hasn’t played since January of 2017, but has stayed in shape amidst lawsuits and accusations against the NFL that settled in 2019. A connection was reported with the Seahawks in March after some comments from head coach Pete Carroll. Carroll gave an update, as reported by USA Today’s Scooby Axson, saying that, while not much has progressed in terms of a contract, Carroll notices the work Kaepernick has put in and admires the 34-year-old’s desire to compete. No deal seems imminent, but Kaepernick remains a possibility should Seattle strike out in the Draft later this month.

Vikings Extend QB Kirk Cousins Through 2023

New Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell wanted a chance to build an offense around quarterback Kirk Cousins. Well, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, he will get his chance as the Vikings will sign Cousins to a one-year, $35MM extension that will keep him in Minnesota through the 2023 NFL season. 

The Vikings reportedly had been receiving calls on Cousins, but the new coaching staff and general manager are declaring their commitment to the veteran quarterback and gaining some much needed cap space in the process.

Cousins’ scheduled cap hit for 2022 was set to be the largest in NFL history at $45MM. The extension reduces his 2022 cap number to $31.42MM, granting Minnesota a little over $13.5MM in cap space. In addition, Cousins will see a raise, making $40MM this season and $30MM in 2023. The deal includes phantom, voidable years in 2024 & 2025 that allow them to reduce the cap hits in ’22 and ’23.

Say what you will about Cousins pay and performance, but after receiving two consecutive franchise tags in Washington, a three-year fully-guaranteed contract to join the Vikings, and two fully-guaranteed extensions to stay in Minnesota, Cousins has secured eight-straight seasons of guaranteed contracts.

There are expectations for Cousins to thrive under O’Connell. With offensive weapons like running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, wide receivers Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn, and tight end Irv Smith Jr. all returning, the familiarity of personnel should make up for the new playbook. The bookends of the offensive line seem set with Christian Darrisaw showing promise after a delayed debut and Brian O’Neill making the Pro Bowl last year. There are some questions to be answered on the interior of the line, but the pieces, for the most part, are there.

The onus will now be on the coaching staff and front office to make offseason improvements to a defense that struggled mightily last year. The Vikings defense allowed the third-most yards in the league and the ninth-most points. If the new leaders in Minnesota can turn around that unit, look for Minnesota to make a play for a playoff spot and potentially even challenge the perennial NFC North power from Green Bay for the division.

Colts Interested in Marcus Mariota, Kirk Cousins?

We have not heard much about free agent quarterback Marcus Mariota this offseason, save for some speculation based more on perceived fit than anything else. Now, however, we have something more concrete.

Dan Graziano of (subscription required) writes that Mariota is generating the most buzz as the Colts’ next QB now that Indianapolis has traded Carson Wentz to the Commanders. Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick of the Titans in the 2015 draft, showed some promise during his five years in Tennessee, including a 2016 campaign in which he threw for 26 TDs against nine interceptions and rushed for 349 yards and a pair of scores. But Ryan Tannehill supplanted Mariota as the Titans’ starter midway through the 2019 season, and Mariota has spent the last two years with the Raiders as Derek Carr‘s backup.

He garnered some trade interest last offseason, and it appears as if the structure of his Las Vegas contract was the only real obstacle to a deal. Quarterback-needy teams likely view him as at least a capable bridge starter to a younger prospect, and Graziano’s colleague, Jeremy Fowler, reports that Mariota is open to such a scenario.

The Colts have also been connected to the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo and the Eagles’ Gardner Minshew in recent days, though obviously signing Mariota would allow them to acquire a Wentz replacement without sacrificing any draft capital. Interestingly, Graziano also says some in the industry believe Indy could be a landing spot for Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Fowler reports that the Vikings are truly torn on what to do with Cousins. Extending him would mean committing more years and dollars to a player who has only led the team to one playoff berth in four seasons, but retaining him without an extension would mean carrying a $45MM cap charge for 2022, which hinders the rest of the club’s roster-building efforts. On the other hand, trading him leaves first-year HC Kevin O’Connell without a proven QB to work with.

Regardless of what the Vikings decide to do with Cousins, the Colts are clearly a key team to watch in the non-Deshaun Watson sector of the quarterback market.