All the Stars Aligning for More Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

If the Minnesota Vikings extend Kirk Cousins beyond 2023 — an option not yet actionized by the team’s front office — onlookers should not be surprised one iota.

Why? Well, the clues are there and in plain sight.

All the Stars Aligning for More Kirk Cousins

Here’s the state of play regarding a Cousins extension:

  1. The Vikings did not extend Cousins in March, a month they historically do so.
  2. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah did not pursue Lamar Jackson or Trey Lance via trade, two names loosely linked to the Vikings.
  3. Minnesota drafted no early-round quarterback in the draft, instead signing up for a 25-year-old developmental passer in Jaren Hall.
  4. After the draft, Adofo-Mensah didn’t rule out — at all — a Cousins extension.
  5. Cousins told reporters last week he wants to stay in Minnesota, even with his free agency 10 months away.
All the Stars Aligning
Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports.

So, here’s the deal: rather than extending Cousins in March, Adofo-Mensah pushed $28.5 million of his dollars onto the 2024 cap [and beyond if Cousins stays]. If Cousins leaves next March, all of that $28.5 million will calcify against the 2024 books. The cap conversion effectively nullified any possibilities of a draft-night trade involving Cousins.

Thereafter, the Vikings did not move up the draftboard for Anthony Richardson or C.J. Stroud, which could’ve been a reasonable strategy if the Adofo-Mensah was willing to leverage future draft picks for “his guy” at QB1 after Cousins. Alas, he did not and didn’t even draft Will Levis or Hendon Hooker, two men available at Minnesota’s 23rd pick in Round 1.

Picks Another Fight
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports.

Jaren Hall joined the team from Round 5, but he’s an emphatic maybe and shouldn’t be coined the QB1 after Cousins. If he develops in one year and looks the part — great. However, Tom Brady is close to the only quarterback in the last 25 years from draft rounds 5-7 to pan out. Of course, undrafted talents like Kurt Warner and Tony Romo excelled as pros, so don’t forget them.

Adofo-Mensah told the media after the draft, “Kirk doesn’t need to show anything to me. Kirk has played football at a high level before I got to the Minnesota Vikings. Last year, we won 13 games. I don’t know what he would need to prove to me or anybody else.”

NFC Rivals Could Play Spoiler to Ideal Vikings Draft Scenario
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at the team’s year-end press conference for the 2022 season after losing to the New York Giants in the playoffs.

“Sometimes you come to a place [in contract talks] where you decide, ‘Hey, let’s talk later. This is a solution for now.’ That’s all that’s happened. We like where we are at the quarterback position, 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, and we’ll see what happens after that,” he added.

Six days ago, reporters asked Cousins about his impending free agency, “You are now a year from free agency, a year away from having options — does that change anything there at all?”

He replied, “No, I want to be in Minnesota. That’s kind of a no-brainer. So, hopefully, you know, we can earn the right to do that.”

Bad Defense
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports.

What does this mean? The Vikings have a general manager who hasn’t closed the door on a Cousins extension, the QB1 who doesn’t want to leave, plus a team sans an honest-to-goodness passer waiting to take over.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell summarized the Cousins + Vikings situation last week, “If the Vikings had traded for Trey Lance or used their first-round pick on a quarterback, though, there was a decent chance Cousins wouldn’t finish the season as the starter. Minnesota made it through most of the weekend without adding real competition for him before eventually using a fifth-round pick on 25-year-old Jaren Hall, who doesn’t project to be an NFL starter.”

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports.

“As a result, Cousins should be assured of starting through the entirety of the 2023 season. If he can help the Vikings stave off what is widely expected to be a decline driven by their record in one-score games regressing toward the mean, he might even be the guy in 2024 and beyond,” Barnwell concluded.

The evidence is there — staring folks in the face. The Vikings could indeed let Cousins enter a contract year, but the breadcrumbs whisper extension.

Had the Vikings drafted Levis or Hooker, everything would be different. But they did not.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by