The Possible Kirk Cousins Extension Gets New Life from Recent Presser

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins is good at compartmentalizing things. For someone who receives so much criticism, that’s certainly a good thing. When it comes to money, Cousins seems fully capable of letting his agent handle that part of being an NFL football player.

During his press conference earlier today, Cousins took on a question about his contract situation. As Vikings fans know by now, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah decided to shave off $16 million of Cousins’ cap hit in 2023, giving the team’s current budget some much-needed wiggle room. However, the cap savings didn’t arrive through a Kirk Cousins extension (as some wrongly predicted).

Why Has the Vikings Pass Defense Faltered Lately?
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.

Instead, the GM simply tacked on void years and relied on a signing bonus conversion. In so doing, Cousins enters the current season carrying a $20.25 million cap charge. Even more significant is that he’s operating without any guarantee of being employed in Minnesota beyond 2023.

The Perpetually-Present Possibility of a Kirk Cousins Extension

Previously, Cousins seemed to suggest he wouldn’t consider a new deal in Minnesota until March of 2024. Dustin Baker relays how Cousins told reporters that he’d prefer to focus on football in the short term: “I think we’ll probably talk about the contract next March. Until then, [we’ll] just focus on this season and the job to do right now.”

Maybe that comment was misunderstood or maybe he has had a change of heart. Regardless, he didn’t entirely shut down the idea of a Vikings extension today, seemingly breathing new life into the possibility of him sticking around.

Labeled Deep
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) prepares to snap the ball to quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the first quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

When asked about possibly getting a new deal, Cousins was able to shift things over to his agent, Mike McCartney: “I tell Mike, ‘You don’t call me until you’ve got something that’s worth talking about […] You just call me when there’s something that you need my feedback on. Until then, Mike, we’ve done this for 12 years, I’ll trust you to handle it.’ So, I just let Mike do his job and my expectation is until he calls me I’m just able to focus on football. And he shouldn’t be calling me unless there’s something of note.”

Presumably, “something of note” would be an offer that at least gets within the ballpark of a number Cousins is willing to accept. Cousins has never been shy about his desire for fully guaranteed money, so it seems safe to assume that part of equation is a contract that includes a robust amount of guaranteed cash.

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Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) gets instrucyion from head coach Kevin O’Connell in the first quarter game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

Cousins was far from perfect last season — he threw 14 interceptions — but he did a lot of good things. The most prominent example is leading his team to the NFC North crown, largely due to his 8 game-winning drives (an astounding number). Even in the modern NFL, piling up more than 4,500 passing yards is notable, so Cousins certainly did a lot well last season.

For his part, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah similalry offered a chance of keeping Cousins around for a little while. The GM noted how there have been “great conversations” with Cousins’ representative. Once again, Adofo-Mensah made a point to stress that previous decisions were because both sides couldn’t find a solution that worked “right now.”

The Vikings Will Stay Close to Home in 2023
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

“We always knew,” Adofo-Mensah explained, “that we were going to keep coming back to the table and conversing.” The implication is that Adofo-Mensah is open to bringing him back if the two sides can find a mutually-beneficial middle ground.

The rest of the Kirk Cousins press conference considers the Netflix series, how the QB is taking care of his body, and optimism about working with Kevin O’Connell more. Meanwhile, Kwesi’s presser covers a variety of topics, so interested readers should feel free to check it out.

As of today, the full Vikings roster is at TCO Performance Center to get training camp going.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.