The Pros and Cons of Another Kirk Cousins Extension in 2023

Probably Down
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The Vikings offseason is in full swing, and of course, one of the main topics of discussion is Kirk Cousins as he has been for much of his time in Minnesota. Today, we will evaluate some of the pros and cons of the potential of another Kirk Cousins extension heading into 2023.

Pro: Immediate Cap Space

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This is obviously the most appealing part of another extension for Kirk Cousins. Per Over the Cap, if the Vikings give their QB an extension it could save them as much as $23 million against the salary cap in 2023.

Currently, OTC has the Vikings listed at $23,433,507 over the salary cap, so there’s potential that an extension gets Minnesota nearly all the way back to even with the salary cap. This makes it much easier to bring in quality free agents, especially on the defensive side of the ball for new defensive coordinator Brian Flores.

Con: Cousins Turns 35 in 2023

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Perhaps 35 is the new 30 in terms of NFL QBs as we see more and more players stick around into their late-30s, but still, Cousins is getting ever-closer to that point where QBs begin to fall off in terms of production. Cousins actually saw dips in his efficiency during 2023, but it was overshadowed (rightfully so) because of terrific play in the clutch for much of the season.

I wouldn’t expect things to completely go off the rails in 2023, but even if they did, the Vikings only have to bite the bullet for one season if they don’t extend Cousins. If things take a turn after an extension, though, Minnesota could be stuck.

Pro: Vikings Have More Time to Find Long-Term Option

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If the Vikings give Cousins an extension, they aren’t under the gun to find his replacement as quickly. Should Cousins play out his contract and hit free agency in 2023, Minnesota finds themselves in a spot where they have to replace him without a ton of great options to turn to.

The Vikings likely won’t be in a spot where they have a top-10 pick in 2024 with Cousins on the roster, which could impact their ability to find a quarterback in that draft. An extension offers Minnesota the flexibility to search past the next 15 months for a quarterback.

Con: Kicking the Can Down the Road

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On the flip side, by extending Cousins, the Vikings would just delay the inevitable. Despite his desire to finish his career in Minnesota, Captain Kirk won’t be around forever. At some point, Minnesota has to seriously consider life after Cousins and while offering him an extension puts that reality on the backburner, it doesn’t eliminate its inevitability.

Pro: Maximize the Final Years of Jefferson’s Rookie Contract

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Everyone talks about maximizing the years of a QB’s rookie contract by putting a strong roster around them before they have to get paid (à la Russell Wilson in Seattle), but Justin Jefferson is the greatest wide receiver in the NFL and remains on his rookie scale deal. Perhaps the best way to maximize that deal is by keeping Cousins around for the final year plus fifth-year option of that contract.

Con: Have the Vikings Hit Their Cousins Ceiling?

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There’s a very real possibility that 13-4 with a disappointing playoff exit could be the ceiling for a Kirk Cousins-led team. Minnesota has made the playoffs twice in five years with Cousins, but they’ve never advanced past the Divisional round. Perhaps an improved defense and a more balanced offensive attack can get them to the promised land, but this Cousins ceiling is something we have to consider.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.