The Vikings’ Largest Cap Hit is Going Toward Someone who Isn’t in Minnesota

qb prospects
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Left to just players who are currently on the roster, Brian O’Neill would be taking the top spot. The stud right tackle has a cap hit that’s nearing $23 million.

The Vikings’ largest cap hit, though, doesn’t belong to Mr. O’Neill.

Instead, it’s Kirk Cousins. Yes, that’s right: Atlanta’s new QB1 has the distinction of (still) taking the largest bite out of Minnesota’s salary cap pie. He’s chewing up $28.5 million in cap space for 2024. Or, put differently, $28.5 million in dead money.

Kirk Cousins Still Has the Vikings’ Largest Cap Hit

Toss is all together and the dead money mountain is just that: a mountain. More specifically, the Vikings are digesting $57,391,874 in dead money.

Cousins is a major factor, yes, but he isn’t alone. Danielle Hunter is leaving behind close to $15 million within that total. Similarly, Marcus Davenport is leaving behind a beefy amount of dead money: $6.8 million. And then there’s contributions from guys like Dalvin Cook, Dean Lowry, Alexander Mattison, and others.

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From the outset, Kirk Cousins has been controversial in Minnesota because of the money.

Prying him away from Washington meant shipping out a three-year deal that promised to pay $84 million in fully guaranteed money. It was a huge amount of money for a QB with lots of talent and yet not too many team accomplishments.

Cousins had his ups and downs in Minnesota. One simply thinks of all of the offensive coordinators — John DeFilippo, Kevin Stefanski, Gary Kubiak, Klint Kubiak, Kevin O’Connell/Wes Phillips — as simply one way of explaining the up-and-down nature of his time at the helm.

Reaffirms Vikings QB Plan
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And yet within that Cousins was able to stick around, seeing his deal extended multiple times to he could keep calling Minnesota home. What was a three-year commitment eventually doubled in total years.

Add it all together and Cousins was the quarterback in Minnesota for six seasons.

In fact, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah put together the final contract adjustment. Doing so cleared off money in 2023, leading to some immediate benefit for Minnesota last year. However, the bill is now being paid. The Vikings have a whopping $28.5 million rendered inaccessible due to Cousins’ contract.

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Currently, the Vikings are moving ahead with the Sam Darnold & J.J. McCarthy twosome. The former is making a modest $10 million on a deal that’s for just a single season. Meanwhile, the latter has yet to sign his rookie deal, a notable development since he’ll be getting going with training camp in less than two weeks.

Even with the dead money doing damage, the Vikings are sitting on roughly $26 million in cap space. Once McCarthy and Dallas Turner sign, though, the total will shrink down to less than $20 million.

Adofo-Mensah can then decide to spend that money on upgrades or roll it over into next season.

Editor’s Note: Information from Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.