Kirk Cousins Likely Enters 2022 with the NFL’s Highest Cap Hit

"Cousins Will Stay" Reports are Getting a Little Fishy
Kirk Cousins

The storyline that has a chokehold over the Minnesota Vikings offseason continues to be the future of QB Kirk Cousins. Rumors constantly revolve around a Cousins trade, especially after a flurry of QB moves over the past week, Whether or not those rumors hold any weight is uncertain. The facts are pretty cut-and-dry, though. As of today, it looks as if Kirk Cousins will hold the highest cap hit of any NFL player in 2022.

On Saturday morning, the Atlanta Falcons announced that they would be restructuring Matt Ryan’s contract, saving $12 million by bringing his cap hit down from nearly $48.7 million to $36.7 million. The restructure moved Ryan’s cap hit from first to fifth in the NFL. He now sits sandwiched between Ryan Tannehill and Patrick Mahomes.

This move means Cousins’ $45 million hit currently ranks only behind Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ of around $46.7 million. However, Rodgers’ cap weight is expected to be reduced with some maneuvering in the next week. Rodgers’ large hit makes sense, though. He’s a player that has won back-to-back MVPs over the past two seasons and is trying to cash in one last time before he likely retires in a few years. As for Cousins, his teams have watched the playoffs from the couch in those seasons.

Obviously, not all of Minnesota’s woes (or most of them) have to do with the Vikings quarterback’s play. However, Cousins is not doing the Vikings any type of favors by reportedly refusing to negotiate his contract.

Since becoming a consistent writer for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD, I’ve often defended Kirk Cousins as a starting quarterback. This offseason especially, much of that rationale has revolved around the belief that there was no way Cousins would go into the 2022 season with a $45 million cap hit. By just making a Matt Ryan-esque restructure, Minnesota brings themselves within a mere $2-3 million within the salary cap. That has not happened. As a result, the Minnesota Vikings now have just four days to trim $15.3 million and become cap compliant by March 16th.

Many of Minnesota’s plans probably depend on the future of Cousins. With a trade, there would likely be a fire sale to move on from veterans. Retaining him would mean running it back at least one more year for a playoff run. Any sort of negotiation makes it much easier to retain and bring in talent, but it depends on Cousins’ cooperation. Either way, the Vikings are now up against a wall. They must make a multitude of moves in a very short amount of time. This should be a very interesting couple days to follow the team and see what they do.