Would a Kirk Cousins Extension Admit ‘Fear’ for Vikings?

Dec 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) give a thumbs up after their win against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Minnesota Vikings won 17-9. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are facing another question mark this offseason when looking at the future of starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. Needing to free up cap space, and with their quarterback taking a substantial amount of it, an extension could be on the table.

If they do that, however, is it an admittance of something else?

Initially, the Vikings brought Kirk Cousins in as a free agent on a three-year deal for $84 million. He was then offered a couple of extensions to take him through the 2023 season. With 2022 in the rearview mirror, the Minnesota quarterback would enter the upcoming year as an impending free agent.

Would a Kirk Cousins
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Unless he’s extended — again.

Should the Vikings choose to kick Cousins’ dollars down the road, would it be an admittance of fear regarding whoever takes over next? Right now, the only other Minnesota quarterback is Nick Mullens. He has started in the NFL and represents at least a decent level of production when it comes to expectations from a backup quarterback. Should Minnesota want to raise the bar in the future, he probably isn’t it.

Would a Kirk Cousins Extension Admit’ Fear’ for Vikings?

If the Vikings opt to swallow Cousins’ $36 million cap hit in 2023 and leave it as is, then they should be prepared to have his replacement in the building for 2024. The current draft class doesn’t necessarily have a home run quarterback, and Minnesota is slated to pick too low for them to be in the mix on any of the top four. They could pair future draft picks with their current assets to move up, but needing to address plenty of areas, it may not be a wise decision.

There is also expected to be a substantial trade market. Aaron Rodgers could be on his way out, and we have already seen Derek Carr say his goodbyes. Trey Lance could probably be had from San Francisco, and maybe even his teammate Jimmy Garoppolo could be. Each of them will have a differing cost level, and not all represent the same level of future certainty. Minnesota needs to decide which player is best served to help their future and which is worth the cost.

NFL Analyst Criticizes Kirk Cousins
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Much of the offseason will be determined by a single decision relating to Cousins. He will be 35 years old next season, and an extension could take him near 40 years old. That’s not a death sentence for quarterbacks, but Cousins is hardly at the same level of talent as someone like Tom Brady or Rodgers. He has been solid for Minnesota, but it is beyond clear by now that he won’t be the difference maker to win a Super Bowl.

Going in a different direction under center doesn’t guarantee a higher success level, but it gives the organization more options to build the rest of the roster. Last season, we saw the Vikings offense need to compensate for a poor defense on a consistent basis. To build out a complete unit with funds available to them is something Minnesota hasn’t had to their credit in the Cousins era.

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks to pass while New York Jets defensive end John Franklin-Myers (91) defends during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The reality is that there are 32 teams in the NFL, and there are probably fewer than 20 starting-caliber quarterbacks. There is never a guarantee that a draft pick will work out, but that should never turn an organization away from looking for the next guy in line. Minnesota hasn’t done that lately, and they haven’t developed a quarterback in forever. It’s time that changes sooner rather than later.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.