Want the Goose & the Golden Eggs? Kirk Is the Key.

to win over nyg
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks on before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Now that the season has started for the Minnesota Vikings, the conversations surrounding a new contract for Justin Jefferson have faded off into the Skol Chants at U.S. Bank Stadium. The dream of inking him to a new deal before the season started came and went, and now the timetable is pretty much up in the air.

Want the Goose & the Golden Eggs? Kirk Is the Key.

The importance for the organization of signing Jefferson to a long-term deal is not lost on anyone. As he continues to set new records left and right on the field, his value on and off the field grows. For an organization banking on the star power of having the top wide receiver in all of the league, it’s an open-and-shut case — the Vikings need to find a way to get this deal done.

Amidst reports still bobbing up claiming that the negotiations are continuing through the season, it’s possible that we might be missing the forest for the trees with this entire situation.

the Goose
Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) and quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warm up before the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The most crucial element to finalizing Jefferson’s contract is likely the bonus structure. It’s not the years. It’s probably not even solely about the dollars and cents. Instead, the most important variable to the situation might be the team’s future plans with quarterback Kirk Cousins.

There’s much to be said about Kirk’s tenure with the Minnesota Vikings. Just head over to Vikings Reddit, and you’ll find it all. All of that noted, it is undeniable that Cousins has been a productive quarterback with the Vikings. You can continue that thought by claiming that we wouldn’t look at Jefferson the same way we are today without Cousins.

He’s the youngest player in NFL history to amass 5,000 yards receiving, just the latest notch on his belt as a stud wideout. He’s got the potential on Sunday against a poor Chargers secondary to be the first player to start a season with back-to-back-to-back 150-yard receiving games. He’s passing records set by all-time greats like Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, and Anquan Boldin on the regular. And he’s done all of this with Cousins throwing him the football.

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Christian Izien (29) in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Paired up as a duo, Cousins and Jefferson, have completed 338 passes for 5,076 yards and 26 touchdowns over 51 games played together. It’s impossible to say for sure, but it also goes without saying that Jefferson’s numbers would not be quite as monumental with guys like Case Keenum, Trey Lance, or your journeyman quarterback du jour throwing him the ball.

But it goes the other way, too. Jefferson’s presence on the field has improved Cousins’ play over the last three years and change. The focal point that Jefferson is for opposing defenses has allowed both Cousins and the Vikings offense to be more productive, as well as upping their points per game totals by nearly two whole points.

Clearly, the pair works well together.

Conversely, plainly put, the Vikings don’t have another option that would be attractive to Jefferson at QB. If the team doesn’t find a way to extend Cousins into the future, what would be the reasoning for Jefferson to want to stay? QBs the caliber of Cousins rarely become free agents. QBs better than Cousins never become free agents. So, would you look at a rookie quarterback to be the solution?

Jefferson’s rabid historic pace would certainly screech to a halt if an unproven rookie QB came in and took the reigns under center. So what about free agents? That class is headlined by guys like Ryan Tannehill, Tyrod Taylor, and Jacoby Brissett. Successful in their own right, but an assured step down from Cousins.

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) warms up before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The team already accepted the 5th year option on Jefferson’s contract, so he is scheduled to be here for the 2024 season, but players like him usually don’t need to wait around for the final year of a rookie deal to land that security. And without a plan beyond the 2023 season at quarterback, it would appear that the Vikings are pushing their luck a bit unless they’re holding a trump card.

You can have the nicest facilities in all the league, a die-hard through thick and thin fan base, the most money to offer, the most guaranteed cash, and these guys want to win. They want to succeed, be included in the game plan, and win. Without winning, the rest of those things can be compromised or found elsewhere.

Simply put, the contractual future of Cousins could be argued as the most critical variable to locking up one of the best players in the NFL.