Have the Vikings Paid Kirk Cousins Yet?

Turn to One
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings head into the 2023 NFL regular season with veteran Kirk Cousins under center for the sixth year in a row. This is the final year of his deal, worth $35 million (AAV), but what happens next remains to be seen.

Have the Vikings Paid Kirk Cousins Yet?

Minnesota picked up Kirk Cousins from Washington after six years with the organization that drafted him in the fourth round. After the 2023 season ends, he’ll have played as many years with the Vikings as he did in Washington. Where he goes for year 13 remains to be seen, but the Vikings appear to be at least keeping the door open.

During the 2023 NFL draft, there was speculation that Minnesota could jump up to take someone like Anthony Richardson or Will Levis. The former had workouts that vaulted him up draft boards, while the latter was considered a first-round lock and fell. Minnesota declined multiple opportunities to take Levis and instead wound up with BYU signal caller Jaren Hall during the fifth round.

Have the Vikings Paid Kirk
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Head coach Kevin O’Connell hasn’t had an opportunity to develop a quarterback to assume the veteran’s position until Hall came along, and there was opportunity to enhance outcomes prior to the 2023 season. Trey Lance has long been rumored to be on the outs for San Francisco, and being from Marshall, MN, his fit with the Vikings seemed logical.

Instead of trading a fourth-round pick to the 49ers, Minnesota stood pat. Lance wound up with the Dallas Cowboys, backing up Dak Prescott, and the Vikings quarterback room was set behind Cousins. While Nick Mullens has started NFL games previously, he isn’t a future option. Hall has yet to be deemed one way or the other, but O’Connell seemingly feels fine about him being the moldable type.

From here, the Cousins saga continues.

It seems unlike that Hall would elevate himself to a starting caliber quarterback a year from now. Minnesota will roster him, but as a third-string option, it’s not expected he’ll ever see game action. O’Connell will have opportunity to coach him up in practice, and fans can only hope it goes better than what former head coach Mike Zimmer thought of his moldable Kellen Mond.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins speaks before a joint practice with the Tennessee Titans in Eagan, Minn., Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Looking ahead to 2024, though, Cousins represents a known commodity. Minnesota should not be expected to falter enough where they are in position for a top quarterback prospect, and Hall likely won’t leap far enough forward to be a Week 1 starter. That means Minnesota would need another bridge talent at worst, and keeping Cousins seems to make the most sense.

Certainly, the Vikings could explore a market with the next Ryan Fitzpatrick, which may entice them. Maybe Marcus Mariota or some other journeyman veteran will give them enough hope for a few games, and they can then insert the next man up. If they will compete for anything in 2023, though, taking that large of a step back seems unlikely.

Ultimately, the decision will come down to general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell, but the tea leaves point to a reunion with Cousins. Minnesota would probably like to do a one-year deal, but that isn’t going to happen for a productive 36-year-old. Cousins will look for future security, and having been with the organization for half of his career, he should expect to find it.

After a Frenzy
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings offer to Cousins remains to be seen, but betting on it to be starting quarterback money makes sense. Minnesota can hope Kirk goes the Tom Brady route and takes a discount to add pieces around him, but that’s largely unheard of in this league. Maybe Brian Flores can coach the defense to something unexpected in year one, and that will help, but any avenue for Cousins to remain brings on a large amount of cash.

At the end of the day, it’s unlikely the Vikings have their heir apparent to Cousins, and as long as all parties know that, the one in the lead will get paid. The NFL is a quarterback league, and unless Minnesota wants to punt on a season, they’ll pay Cousins to be back under center in 2024 and beyond.

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.