Latest Projection for Kirk Cousins’ Salary Will Make Your Stomach Churn

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Oofta. That’s the best word to describe the latest financial projection for Kirk Cousins’ next contract.

Latest Projection for Kirk Cousins’ Salary Will Make Your Stomach Churn

For a few weeks — it feels like a long time ago now — Minnesota Vikings fans reserved hope that Cousins would rejoin the purple team for a seventh season on a “team-friendly deal.” Some outrageous thinkers believed that could be between $10-$25 million. More realistically, $35 million felt like an appropriate hometown discount.

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But all that is nearly dead, as Cousins seems poised to break the bank — like he always does — in free agency or from his next Vikings’ contract. ESPN’s latest projection upped the ante, just two weeks from free agency’s commencement.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, who is not a fringe thinker with hot takes, estimated Cousins’ value at a jaw-dropping $51 million per season on Monday, a figure that might effectively rule Minnesota out of the Cousins Sweepstakes.

The Vikings Have 3 Glaring Problems to Fix in 2023
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“Cousins is unquestionably the best quarterback on the market, though he’s recovering from his first serious injury after he tore his right Achilles in late October. Before the injury, Cousins’ 63.6 QBR was the ninth-best mark in the league. His 11.2% off-target rate ranked No. 1 over the first half of the season, and he did it without Justin Jefferson for a chunk of that time,” Barnwell wrote about Cousins.

The 35-year-old was scripting one of his career’s best seasons in 2023 before the Achilles injury ended everything. The Vikings were 4-4 at the time and whimpered to a 3-6 finish sans Cousins.

Kirk Cousins Riddle
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Barnwell continued, “The last time Cousins was a free agent, he parlayed his leverage into a three-year deal worth a fully guaranteed $84 million. After two seasons, he parlayed that contract and Minnesota’s need for cap relief into two additional deals. In all, he earned $185 million over his six years with the Vikings for an average of just under $31 million per season.”

If Cousins hits the open market, a team like the Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers, or New England Patriots could pounce.

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“Any team hoping to win over the next three years that isn’t in position to land one of the top starters in the 2024 draft should be trying to pursue Cousins. That’s a group that includes the Broncos, Buccaneers, Falcons, Raiders, Steelers and Titans, with the Dolphins and Seahawks as outside candidates if they move on from their current starters. Some of those teams will opt for longer shots in the draft, but if Cousins’ recovery is on track, he should be able to get one more significant deal as a 35-year-old free agent,” Barnwell concluded.

Predictably, Vikings fans reacted adversely on social media to the $51 million bombshell. Mitch Kockler posted on X, “Well at that money I would wish him well and move on as a Vikings fan.”

And one more time for context: Barnwell doesn’t do players’ bidding or conjure hot takes for effect. In all likelihood, his Cousins’ projection is somewhat close to accurate.

Free agency begins in 14 days with the NFL’s “legal tampering” period.


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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