How Much Will Kirk Cousins Cost; Could Vikings Get Discount?

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Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are 100% focused on making Josh Dobbs the best possible quarterback they can, over the next 7-8 weeks, in hopes he’s ready to lead them on a playoff run, come the new year. But at some point, the Vikings’ magical 2023 run will end, just like it did in 2022 and all seasons before that.

And when it does end, even if it’s after confetti falls on horned helmets for the first time ever, the Vikings’ injured QB1 Kirk Cousins will be weeks away from becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time since 2018.

Vikings, Cousins both very interested in staying together

Last we heard, however, Kirk was very interested in remaining with the Vikings and Minnesota was planning an attempt to sign him back before that happens. Now, it appears the two sides could be even closer together on a deal than previously anticipated.

According to Jordan Schultz (Bleacher Report), both sides are very receptive to more time together. Not only that, but Schultz is reporting that Cousins may even be interested in a one-year deal, instead of demanding something that guarantees him two or three years.

So it’s possible that GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Zygi and Mark Wilf won’t have to make a long-term decision on their future plan at QB after all.

Related: Nothing Will Stop Kirk Cousins From Doing Charity Work

What is Kirk Cousins worth on open market?

Obviously, the question hanging over this entire situation is the same as what hangs over almost every adult decision in today’s world: MONEY. How much will Kirk Cousins cost, if he hits free agency? And, is it possible the Minnesota Vikings could get a sweetheart deal, compared to what he’d take elsewhere?

Let’s turn to ESPN insider, Jeremy Fowler, for the answer to that first question. He pins Kirk’s open mark cost, if signed as a free agent, at about $37.5 million per season. Teams he has talked to tell Fowler that Cousins would get part of his new contract guaranteed, but it wouldn’t be the fully guaranteed deal he’s enjoyed since signing in Minnesota.

Cousins’ current contract states he cannot be franchise-tagged, so it’s open season for the accomplished quarterback. That said, staying in Minnesota is still on the table. Teams I’ve talked to project a Derek Carr-like market ($37.5 million annually) with stronger guarantees, though perhaps not the fully guaranteed deals that Cousins has enjoyed in the past.

Jeremy Fowler – ESPN

Cousins floor if signed as free agent: ~$37.5 million per season

Personally, I think the executives Fowler is talking to are low-balling him on what Kirk Cousins can get in free agency. If Derek Carr can get $37.5 million per season, then I’m firing my agent if I’m Cousins and he can’t get me at least $40 million, even off an Achilles tear.

Kirk hasn’t played in over two weeks, yet he still ranks 3rd among NFL QBs in TD passes (18) and 10th in passing yards (2,331) this season. In both categories, he’s better than Derek Carr, who’s started all 10 games this season for the Saints and posted just 10 TD passes to go with 2,231 yards.

Let’s just call $37.5 million the floor, in what Cousins is expected to cost this offseason, if he were to hit the open market. On a one year deal, even though they wouldn’t get much of a discount, I’m guessing the Vikings would jump at the opportunity to pay Cousins $35-40 million to be their QB in 2024.

Until this point, common belief around the NFL was that Cousins would want two or three years on a new deal, with at least part of it guaranteed. But knowing Cousins’ infatuation with fully-guaranteed contracts and controlling his own destiny, a one-year deal might make sense.

Related: 3 Reasons Why Vikings Keep Winning, Despite Injuries and Slow Start

On the open market, a 3 year deal (2 GTD) probably means $36 to $38 million per season, and not all of it would be guaranteed. A one year contract could get Kirk closer to $40 million and give him another chance to control his fate going into 2025, with plenty of options to cash in again for the going one-year rate for top-10 QBs.

Will Kirk Cousins give the Minnesota Vikings a discount?

If I’m the Wilfs and I want to let Kirk Cousins know we are serious about retiring him a Viking and leaning on his arm for the next two or three years, while we try to find his replacement in 2026 or 2027, I start negotiations this offseason at a 3-year deal worth an average of $33-$34 million per season.

I’d offer it with the first two years fully guaranteed and a cheap team option for year three. Yes, flexibility and one-year deals are nice but a longer term contract allows you to save some money and cements Cousins as the team’s unquestioned leader, without the asterisk of pending free agency.

Kirk Cousins cost free agent free agency minnesota vikings
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

From there, the only thing I’m willing to budge much on would be the cost of the team option. If he wants more guaranteed money or a higher AAV, then I’d take him up on his willingness to sign for just one season.

If a short-term deal is on the table, that’s probably what happens

But w know Kirk Cousins wants to stay here, raise his kids in Eagan and chase a few Super Bowls with Justin Jefferson and Kevin O’Connell. He can cut a few million off the top of his yearly salary to make sure that happens, especially knowing that will help the Vikings pay the talent required to make deep playoff runs.

But again, all of this is hypothetical, for now. At some point, I expect Josh Dobbs to come down to earth and make the Vikings miss Kirk Cousins. If he somehow finds a new level to his game, under KOC’s tutelage, then this entire conversation changes in a big way.

And, no matter what I think is the best path forward, I’m guessing the Vikings will take future flexibility over saving a few million bucks against next year’s cap. If Cousins really is willing to sign on a one-year term, I’d put my chips all-in on that being the team’s QB plan for 2024.

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