Rick Spielman Explains the Kirk Cousins Dilemma

Vikings QB Situation
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Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has an extensive to-do list with major questions to answer in the upcoming months. But all eyes are on Kirk Cousins and his fate. It is a massive decision for the future of the organization if the veteran returns for a seventh season or if the franchise moves in a different direction, trying to find his successor in the draft.

Rick Spielman Explains the Kirk Cousins Dilemma

Rick Spielman Explains the Kirk Cousins Dilemma
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Barring a contract extension, Cousins will be a free agent for the first time since 2018 when he departed from Washington after they wouldn’t commit to him long-term. Six years later, that surely was a mistake as they still haven’t found a capable replacement.

Minnesota’s GM at that time, Rick Spielman, handed Cousins a fully guaranteed three-year contract worth $84 million and followed that up by extending his deal in the 2020 offseason. Adofo-Mensah added one additional year in 2022, resulting in a six-year stint with the Vikings.

Rick Spielman and John Lynch
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That stint could be in its final weeks and the guy who brought him in is unsure about the future.

They are in a dilemma, they are going to have to make a decision. I thought Kirk Cousins with Kevin O’Connell was having his best year last year because you saw how he elevated that football team. Everybody said he has to have playmakers around him and he has to have a supporting cast for him to have success but when they lost Justin Jefferson to a hamstring injury and Kirk Cousins had to take over, they went on that winning streak and he played, I thought, the best football of his career during that time.

He and Kevin O’Connell had great chemistry, but then unfortunately he had his Achilles tendon injury. I don’t know if he will get that fully guaranteed contract. He may want that but you got a 36-year-old (Cousins will turn 36 in August), coming off an Achilles. If Minnesota is not going to do that, which I don’t believe they will, they’ll go ahead and let him get to the open market to see if anyone will give him a two or three-year fully guaranteed contract.

Rick Spielman

Cousins played flawless football in the two games before suffering his injury, shredding the Packers and the 49ers. It ultimately turned out, both of these opponents were decent football teams. The most impressive part is that he did it without Justin Jefferson on the field but still guided his team with extreme confidence. Having continuity with head coach Kevin O’Connell was a reason for optimism during the 2023 offseason and it surely helped. The two formed a wonderful connection.

Betting Odds for Kirk
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However, football is a business and that’s why the Vikings should be careful in negotiations with the passer and his camp for obvious reasons. As Spielman mentioned, he is not getting any younger and an age-related decline could happen at any moment. The injury only increased that likelihood. A fully guaranteed deal, especially a long-term contract, would be a risk.

SI’s Albert Breer recently reported: “The current Minnesota brass, now going into its third season, really likes Cousins, but it’s also been made clear that they’re not going to go contractually where the previous regime did twice, and give Cousins a fully guaranteed deal.”

So Spielman believes the Vikings will not hand him another one of those guaranteed multi-year contracts. Once he is testing free agency, he is unlikely to return because of the void-year inflicted cap hit of $28.5 million in 2024. Adding that to a new deal would be absurd.

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It is also logical that someone will match his demands. Teams like the Atlanta Falcons or the Pittsburgh Steelers could look at the passer to fill the position after years of struggles.

For the first time since his arrival, a departure is realistic. The oddsmakers still like the Vikings as Cousins’ 2024 employer and all options should be on the table from a team perspective. There will be negotiations and if they can find a common ground, a return is viable but just as likely is that Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell want to find their guy in the draft. J.J. McCarthy possesses some traits that fit O’Connell’s offense and Jayden Daniels’ athleticism would add a fascinating dynamic.

Cousins’ old contract will void on March 13 and he will be an unrestricted free agent. On the same day, his void years are scheduled to hit the books. The only way to prevent both things from happening is a contract extension before that day. Other teams can legally negotiate with Cousins on March 11.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt