Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins broke his silence after his efforts to see another contract extension ended with the team restructuring his contract and sending him into the final year of the deal.
Appearing at the podium following voluntary organized team activities (OTAs), Cousins admitted the feeling he has approaching this season has become more familiar to him, as opposed to leaving him estranged after the Vikings declined to take a discount in a potential contract extension earlier this offseason.
“This is my fourth time in this league going into a season with free agency on the horizon — my fourth year of my rookie contract, the two years in Washington after that, and now this. I would just say that to say, it’s more the norm than the exception,” Cousins said in a May 3 media conference.
Despite coming off his winningest season to date, compiling a 13-4 record last season which ended in a playoff loss to the New York Giants, Cousins maintained that winning is the only way to preserve your place in the league — and that nothing is given.
“I think in this league, there should never be entitlement. You’ve always got to go play,” Cousins said. “And teams can do whatever they want to do, that’s their prerogative. So, you just go to work, do the best you can.
“You got to focus on winning football games and do your part and put your work in the rest will take care of itself,” Cousins added, reflecting on not having a single offer in high school as he’s continued to defy his expectations since entering the league as a fourth-round pick in 2012.
With his future in limbo last season as the Vikings underwent wholesale changes in the front office and coaching, Cousins stated he’d like to retire a Viking.
This season may be his final proving ground.
“I want to be in Minnesota. That’s kind of a no-brainer, so hopefully we can earn the right to do that,” Cousins said. “I’ve always said that, when I say I would like to be in Minnesota, there’s a lot of things I’d like to have — you’ve got to go earn it. So that’s kind of where I’m at with that.”
Vikings Declined Discounted Extension From Kirk Cousins
Cousins, who turns 35 in August, has made $159 million earned the past five seasons, which is the most by any player in the league. He was looking for a deal that would keep him in Minnesota for three more seasons, and was even willing to take a discount, Star Tribune reporters Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer revealed on the Access Vikings podcast in March.
Instead, the Vikings turned him down, opting for a contract restructure that freed up $16 million in cap space for one last run with Cousins before a potential pivot elsewhere at quarterback for the first time since 2018.
“The sense I’ve gotten is that they didn’t want to commit as long as what he was looking for. They wanted something shorter, he wanted something longer. My understanding is that 2025 was the issue,” Goessling said. “The question of how long would everyone guarantee it for. I think he wanted ’25, they were like ‘well, we don’t want to commit that long.’ He’d be 37 before the 2025 season so it gets to be later in the game than you want to fully guarantee a quarterback deal.”
“I had also heard that he wasn’t asking for $40 [million],” Krammer added. “He wasn’t asking for that much, in terms of what Daniel Jones got, who is obviously much younger but much less accomplished. Cousins’ camp was kind of surprised I guess, from what I heard, at the Vikings not jumping or at least accepting what they were asking for.”
While the Vikings front office did diligent research in the 2023 quarterback class, Minnesota did not land their franchise quarterback of the future. They did select Jaren Hall of BYU in the fifth round, however, he’s not among the same tier of quarterback who could be ready to play by 2024.
That leaves potential contract talks with the Vikings and Cousins back on the table.
Vikings, Kirk Cousins Could Strike Extension Before 2023 Season
The breaking point of contract talks this offseason between the Vikings and Cousins was the length of his extension. Cousins was looking for a deal through the 2025 season, while Minnesota wants a shorter deal.
After giving Cousins a one-year extension last offseason, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could go the same route and give Cousins an additional buffer year before the start of the season. That would allow the Vikings more time to find their next quarterback and potentially allow for a developmental year.
Minnesota could also use that additional year to shop Cousins in the trade market by keeping him under team control.
However, Cousins’ camp could remain stubborn in seeking a longer deal and begin gauging the type of deal he could garner in free agency by next offseason.