When to Expect a Kirk Cousins Verdict

Hall of Fame QB Enodrses Kirk Cousins
Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have a unique decision afoot regarding 35-year-old quarterback Kirk Cousins. He’s scheduled to hit free agency in five weeks, is recovering from a torn Achilles, and will turn 36 by the start of the 2024 regular season.

When to Expect a Kirk Cousins Verdict

On the open market, Cousins can probably fetch $45 million per season via his next contract, and Minnesota must decide if something in that ballpark is prudent for team-building in 2024 and beyond. The club must make the correct decision at quarterback, whether retaining Cousins, letting him walk via free agency, or drafting a quarterback regardless of Cousins’ employment. All options are on the table.

Expect a Kirk Cousins
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So, when will the decision hit? The short answer: Probably early March.

The Vikings encountered a somewhat similar situation with Case Keenum in 2018, and that news hit the light of day on February 26th, 2018 — that Keenum was not in the organization’s plans after he helped guide Minnesota to the NFC Championship. There is a chance that word is leaked to the press before March about Cousins’ fate in Minnesota.

Tabs His Old Team
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Yet, according to Cousins, it’s a March thing. He told Sky Sports last week, “Many people who ask including friends and family are surprised conversations don’t really begin until March.”

The Vikings’ leaders have said for months that they’d like Cousins back for Year No. 7 if the contract terms align. The veteran signal-caller was on pace for 5,000 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions before his unfortunate Achilles tear three months ago. Minnesota finished the season 3-6 without him.

Where Do the Vikings Go
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“I would love to know where I’m going. I would love to get those conversations going now, but I’m just sitting at home watching the playoffs and don’t have much going on apart from rehab,” Cousins added while chatting with Sky Sports.

If the Vikings don’t re-sign Cousins, drafting a quarterback in Round 1 would become nearly mandatory. Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Jayden Daniels (LSU), Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), and Bo Nix (Oregon) are expected to go off the board in Round 1.

Cousins concluded about this free-agent timeline, “But I really have to wait until the first couple of weeks in March to begin those conversations. I’m just waiting it out, and time will tell as those final head-coaching vacancies fill, and teams start to decide how they want to draft and handle free agency, and we’ll start to figure out — including my own team, the Vikings — where I’m going to end up. But we’ll have to wait.”

General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in August of 2022 at Minnesota Vikings headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota.

In theory, Minnesota could also sign a “patchover” quarterback in free agency like Gardner Minshew or Drew Lock, for example, let Cousins walk, and draft a rookie passer in April.

On the whole, if you’re looking for a firm timetable on Cousins, it’s likely March — with the slight possibility that Minnesota’s intentions could leak at the end of February.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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