Kirk Cousins’ Leverage May Not Be the Same as Last Time

Vikings Free Agent
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Wondering about Kirk Cousins’ status in an offseason is nothing new for Minnesota Vikings fans. Every year since 2020 or so, some media outlets and Vikings enthusiasts speculate about how Cousins could be traded and basically become the next quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

Kirk Cousins’ Leverage May Not Be the Same as Last Time

Those theories never materialized, even after the same crowd banged the same drum every offseason.

Leverage May Not
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Now, however, a Cousins exit from Minnesota’s backdoor is realistic: he’s scheduled to hit free agency in two weeks. Barring an extension with the Vikings, which is certainly possible, he’ll hit the open market for the first time in six years.

The difference between this go-round and his last free-agent endeavor is leverage. Put bluntly, he may not have much, according to some.

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Pro Football Talk‘s Mike Florio said about Cousins’ impending free agency last week, “I wonder how many teams are really going to pursue a guy who’s going to be 36 in August, who’s coming off a torn Achilles tendon when you got all these other QBs that I’ve been mentioning that I listed available in FA. Headlined by Baker Mayfield as the top alternative to Kirk Cousins.”

Cousins tore his Achilles last October — not a minor injury — and is recovering nicely so far. He’s also 35 and will turn 36 in August. When he was a free agent last time, Cousins was 29. This time is a markedly different ballgame per age.

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“You got the potential to trade for a Justin Fields and the potential to draft a guy. Is someone going to pursue Kirk Cousins aggressively? As aggressively as the Vikings did in 2018, when aggressive meant fending off the Jets. That’s it, so we’ll see,” Florio added.

Other teams that could be interested in Cousins via free agency — the Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders, etc. — will have options. It’s not Cousins or bust. In 2018, he was a young-ish quarterback awaiting his next chapter. Now, he’s a veteran sizing up his final chapter in a market where Fields or six Round 1 or 2 quarterbacks are available in the draft.

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Cousins will get paid handsomely somewhere. But he may not be able to call his shot via guaranteed money, which has been his modus operandi, well, forever.

Before the Achilles injury, Cousins was on pace for 5,000 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Those are usually known as fringe MVP stats.


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.

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