The Pros and Cons of Signing Kirk Cousins

He's likely a free agent come March 14th.

Search the social media feeds of Minnesota Vikings fans and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more polarizing topic than signing Kirk Cousins. It’s an interesting debate. The Vikings are in need of a quarterback. The team has cap room to sign him, but is spending almost all of it on one player the right move? We’ve looked at the pros and cons of re-signing both Case Keenum AND Teddy Bridgewater, now let’s check out how signing Cousins could impact the team.

QuarterbackKirk CousinsCase KeenumTeddy BridgewaterSam Bradford
Weight215 lbs.209 lbs.215 lbs.235 lbs.
Career Passing Yards16,2068,7716,15019,049
Career Touchdowns994628101
Career Interceptions55272257
Career Completion Rate65.5%61.9%64.7%62.5%
Career Record as Starter26-30-120-1817-1134-45-1


Long-term solution

Signing Cousins would hypothetically provide a long-term answer for the Vikings at the quarterback position, a luxury that has eluded the franchise for decades. He’s been Washington’s franchise quarterback for the past three seasons and has performed quite well in the role. With a better defense and strong supporting cast around him, there’s no reason to think he can’t duplicate (or improve) his production in Minnesota.


The 29 year-old is top-ten in yards, completion percentage, yards per attempt, passing touchdowns and yards per game since taking over as full-time starter in 2015. Since then, Cousins has passed for an average of 4,329 yards and 27 touchdowns per season, with a 67% completion percentage.


Injury has never forced Cousins to miss a game in his six-year NFL career. The 2012 fourth-round pick out of Michigan State hasn’t missed a game due to injury since his Spartan days. In 2009 an ankle injury kept him from starting against Illinois.

He makes commercials

This obviously has nothing to do with football, but at least the guy has a sense of humor.


Not a proven postseason winner

Cousins has a 0-1 playoff record. In his only postseason start, a 2016 Wild Card matchup against the Green Bay Packers, Cousins went 29 of 46 (63%) for 329 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. He also had a rushing touchdown. Despite his 91.7 passer rating the Redskins were defeated 35-18.

Cousins finished his college career as the winningest quarterback in Michigan State history, compiling a 27-12 record. However, his record in bowl games was 1-2.


Rather than potentially keeping two quarterbacks and having a top-tier QB tandem, breaking the bank for Cousins would limit the Vikings options at backup quarterback. If he were signed and happens to go down, would the team be comfortable playing a Kyle Sloter if it needs to?

Cap room

It’s been reported Cousins will demand somewhere between $25-30 million per season, and possibly even more. Spotrac estimated his market value at $26M, but the site also notes that free agents of any position always reel in more than their value based on the nature of supply and demand. In light of the economics, the salary cap website estimated his contract will fall around $28.6M per year. So, using that number, a five-year deal for Cousins would cost the Vikings $143 million.

If the Vikings make Cousins an offer in that ballpark, they would likely front-load the deal just like that of San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Garappolo is making $42.6 million in the first year of his newly inked contract. Structuring the money in this fashion gives the team cap relief in future seasons. It also provides insurance in case things don’t work out with the signal caller. The team could potentially move on from Cousins after three seasons with limited cap implications.

However, front-loading a contract for Cousins would greatly limit the Vikings spending this offseason. It would diminish the opportunity to sign multiple free agents at other positions and extend key players like Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks.

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Sean Borman

Sean Borman is a writer with Minnesota roots that's still somehow an optimist. He was an intern with the Vikings during college and previously wrote for Rant Sports. You can find Sean on the golf course and on Twitter @SeanBoarMan.

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  1. Sean, check out the contract pages for the Vikings at, specifically the “Cash Earnings” tabs for those nine Vikings who both (a) were drafted, NOT college free agents, and (b) signed their SECOND contract with the Vikings, never mind where they signed their first, third or later contracts. Seven of these nine players didn’t see a big bump in their paychecks until the fifth year of their career: internal signees Griffen, Rhodes, Robison and Smith, and outside free agents Joseph, Murray and Riley. Off the top of my head, I don’t know why Rudolph and Wright hit pay dirt in their respective Years Four instead, and former college free agents like Remmers and Thielen are outliers, hitting it big in their seventh and fourth seasons, respectively.

    What this indicates to me is that Kendricks, Hunter, Diggs and potential fifth-year option Tres Waynes won’t see their big pay increases until their collective career Year Five of 2019, by which time the salary cap will have recovered from Cousins’ 2018 signing bonus. Barr’s Year Five is 2018, but his fifth year option is already counted towards the 2018 salary cap, and any long-term deal would be expected to reduce his 2018 bite of the cap, not increase it. So, while a front-loaded Cousins deal could have some effect on the Vikings’ ability to retain the services of all of their older players long past their second contracts like Joe Berger, Tramaine Brock, Michael Floyd, Tom Johnson, Emmanuel Lamur and Terence Newman, and could hinder the team’s chances of signing top-of-the-line free agents like Andrew Norwell, Sheldon Richardson or, potentially, Muhammad Wilkerson, I don’t think you have to worry about it affecting the Viking’s plans for re-signing their own young, just-entering-their-prime, soon-to-be free agent starters and stars.

    Of course, I’ve just outlined in a reply to my own post (is that narcissistic of me?) about the “Three Classes of QB Contracts” elsewhere here at VT why I don’t think we need to be worried about signing Kirk Cousins at all!

    1. You are correct. I see you have done your homework. That being said, the team can spend a lot of $ on Cousins but it won’t be able to spend “whatever it takes” money like the Jets are able to do. There’s a limited price the Vikings are able to comfortably afford in order to sign Cousins along with ALL of the 2019 in-house FA’s. I plan on finding out that amount in an upcoming article.

  2. Let the Jets, or Browns take Kirk, and let other have Bradford. He’s hurt more than healthy anyways. Keep Case and Teddy and let them battle it out for starter position. That’s just my thought a fan since way back when the only QB I worried about was Fran the Man.

      1. I agree Sean, the fact that people want to sign Keenum and Teddy makes me thinking nobody has complete faith in either of them. While I agree it is good to have competition at every position and a good backup quarterback I think the best way forward is with one and a developmental player.

        Of course if they can retain Teddy under a cheap contract I think that’s different.