Vikings, Cousins May be at Odds Over Future

AP Photo: Jed Jacobsohn

What will the Minnesota Vikings do with Kirk Cousins? That’s the biggest question facing the organization this offseason. With one year and $45 million salary cap dollars remaining on his current deal, we’ve been operating under the assumption that (a) Kirk will agree to an extension to lower his bloated 2022 cap hit or (b) the Vikings will trade him.

But Kirk Cousins has to be a willing party if an extension is going to get done. The final year on his contract is fully guaranteed so he has all of the leverage. So far, however, that hasn’t been projected to the public as a problem. Insiders around the NFL have spent the last two weeks painting a rosy picture between Cousins and the Vikings, indicating an extension as more than likely.

No Negotiating (yet) For Kirk

But whatever “sources” were feeding all of the recent insider reports weren’t from Kirk Cousins’ camp. We heard from his side for the first time on Thursday morning, via Courtney Cronin (ESPN), and he doesn’t appear to be in the same “kumbaya” circle as whoever’s been talking to Schefter, Pelissero and Rapoport.

From what I’m hearing, I would not be surprised to see Cousins’ camp try to force the Vikings’ hand by not wanting to go back to the negotiating table just yet. That means he’d play out his expensive contract or force the team to trade him.

Courtney Cronin (ESPN)

As noted by Cronin, if Cousins isn’t willing to re-negotiate his contract, the Minnesota Vikings will be forced to (a) stomach his $45 million cap hit next season or (b) trade him to another team. Trading him wouldn’t be free, however. The Vikings would still have to pay $10 million of his cap hit, likely more if they want a decent trade package in return.

Vikings Fire Back

No matter what their eventual plan is, the Vikings need the rest of the league to believe that Kirk Cousins is their guy and that he’s open to staying in Minnesota long term. That way, they have the maximum amount of leverage if trade talks with other teams do get serious. If it appears as if Cousins wants out, like Cronin’s report implied this morning, it could spell disaster for what the Vikings’ new front office is trying to accomplish this offseason.

That’s why, just a mere hours after ESPN’s article dropped this morning, the Vikings went back on the media offensive, using insider Ian Rapoport (NFL Network) to make it clear once again, that they have no plans to trade their franchise quarterback. Kevin O’Connell went as far as telling media in his opening press conference that he’s already working on packages specifically designed for Cousins.

Rapoport isn’t reporting anything new in the above video. He, his colleague, Tom Pelissero and ESPN’s Adam Schefter have all been reporting the exact same thing for weeks. The only thing that changed is Cronin’s report from this morning. Expect more of this type of back-and-forth as both Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings posture themselves for what’s about to come.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan