Recent league-wide reports suggest there is mutual interest between the Minnesota Vikings and free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins. The general consensus is that there’s a reasonable likelihood the quarterback ends up in Minnesota.
A rumor surfaced yesterday on Twitter that claimed the Vikings had already offered Cousins a fully guaranteed, 3-year, $91 million contract. Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. On Tuesday, multiple sources confirmed those numbers are inaccurate. Both sources agreed that Cousins’ new contract is unlikely to exceed $30 million per season.
Tom Pellissero of the NFL Network reported that he has spoken to multiple, trusted sources who are familiar with the situation and say the numbers are “absolutely false.” Pelissero said the Vikings have not offered Cousins a contract, which would be a clear violation of the league’s tampering laws.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 6, 2018
Earlier today, Mike Florio of NBC’s ProFootballTalk appeared on KFAN radio with the voice of Vikings Paul Allen. Florio also addressed the rumor of the fully guaranteed, $91 million contract, stating:
“If it’s 3-year deal [for Kirk Cousins] I don’t think it’s going to be $30 million a year,” said Florio, who added, “He’ll be hard-pressed to get north of $27 million.”
Mike Florio of @ProFootballTalk on KFAN: "If it's a 3-year deal [for Kirk Cousins] I don't think it's going to be $30 million a year… He'll be hard-pressed to get north of $27 (million)."
— Sean Borman (@SeanBoarMan) March 6, 2018
Guaranteeing a quarterback over $30 million per season could put the team at risk of being unable to extend the contracts of key players, particularly after the 2019 season. Assuming Pelissero and Florio are accurate, Minnesota could conceivably afford to pay Cousins and keep its core intact for the foreseeable future.
A 3-year deal using Florio’s number ($27 million) would cost the Vikings roughly $81 million. A 4-year deal would cost $108 million and five years would run the cost up to $135 million. According to OverTheCap.com the Vikings currently have $47.6 million in cap room.
A possible plan B?
Peliserro suggested that if the price for Cousins approached $30 million a year, the team might be willing to bring back Case Keenum, assuming he hasn’t signed with a new team at that point.
Based on the words of head coach Mike Zimmer at last weekend’s NFL Scouting Combine, the team appears to be willing to pay a quarterback as long as it “doesn’t take away from the rest of the things that have gotten us to this point.”
The Vikings, as expected, did not place the franchise tag on Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater or Sam Bradford before the league deadline. General manager Rick Spielman said he planned to meet with the representatives of all three players at the Combine last weekend.
There’s still time for the team to get a deal done with any or all three quarterbacks. At this point, however, it appears Cousins is Minnesota’s main target. Free agency opens March 14th. The front office is allowed to speak to unrestricted free agents starting Monday, March 12th.