Vikings’ O’Connell Breaks Long-Held Silence on Cousins’ Future as Deadline Approaches

Kirk Cousins, Kevin O'Connell

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings and former quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Time is running out for the Minnesota Vikings to reach a contract extension with quarterback Kirk Cousins.

The NFL Combine has arrived and free agency is soon to follow, officially opening on March 13. That gives the Vikings just over two weeks to come to an agreement to keep Cousins, the franchise’s starter of six years, in purple and gold. However, while negotiations are amicable, the two sides still appear a considerable distance apart on terms for a new multiyear contract.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell spoke to the state of his communication with the quarterback this offseason, saying he has talked football with Cousins a great deal and that there have also been conversations pertaining to a new contract.

“I think Kirk wants to be a Viking,” O’Connell told KFAN1003 on Tuesday, February 27, per ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. “He knows we want him to be a Viking. … Hopefully we can work to get there.”

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah also held a media session at the NFL Combine on Tuesday, during which he addressed Cousins’ contract situation.

“Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah says the franchise is in a ‘great place’ with Kirk Cousins,” Seifert posted to X. “He says ‘we have our interests’ and ‘he has his’ and the sides will see if they can meet in the middle. Reiterates that he thinks the Vikings can win a Super Bowl with Cousins.”

Kirk Cousins Projected to Sign $100 Million Deal With Vikings

Adofo-Mensah, O'Connell, Vikings

GettyGeneral manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (left) and head coach Kevin O’Connell (right) of the Minnesota Vikings.

The impasse between the two sides continues to be the length of a new deal, though more specifically the amount of guaranteed money beyond the first season of a new contract.

Darren Wolfson of KSTP reported February 22 that the Vikings have drawn a line in the sand when it comes to guaranteeing any money in the third year of a new deal.

“I continue to believe the Vikings are not guaranteeing anything in 2026, so if that’s the sticking point, Kirk Cousins is landing elsewhere,” Wolfson said, per SKOR North.

Michael Ginnitti of Spotrac projected that Cousins will sign a three-year, $100 million deal this offseason and believes Minnesota is still the overwhelmingly likely destination. His projection allows for the Vikings to avoid guaranteeing a dime in 2026, but the guaranteed dollars are heavy across the first two years of the deal.

“Cousins has spent [six] years on a fully-guaranteed contract in Minnesota, but that may not be in the cards this time around,” Ginnitti wrote on February 22. “While a return to the Vikings still appears imminent, Cousins may need to drop his value to secure [two] fully-guaranteed seasons on his next contract, as we’ve noted here. In this projection, Cousins gets $50 [million] in 2024, and is fully-guaranteed $75 [million] through 2025.”

Kirk Cousins Will Ultimately Dictate Terms to Vikings, as Team’s Options at QB Are Limited

Kirk Cousins, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Commanders

GettyQB Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings.

Cousins will have a considerable market if he makes it to free agency, which is entirely within his power to control. The QB can simply decline to sign any offer sheet from Minnesota, even if it is one he likes, and test the waters of free agency in mid-March.

The Vikings’ primary competition for Cousins’ services figures to be the Atlanta Falcons, unless that franchise is able to trade up for one of the top QB prospects in the 2024 NFL draft. The Falcons select No. 8 in the first round, and Cousins has several family ties to the area.

Minnesota holds the No. 11 overall pick and could try to trade up for a quarterback as well. It is unclear whether the team’s preference would be Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye, though at least one will be available with the third pick.

The New England Patriots currently hold the rights to that selection, though could be willing to move off of it for the right offer. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears and Washington Commanders — who pick first and second, respectively — remain likely to draft quarterbacks in those spots.

In the end, a reunion between the Vikings and Cousins is the most likely outcome, as he is arguably the most accomplished QB who is also a potential free agent and because the Vikings may find it difficult/incredibly costly to land their rookie signal-caller of choice in April’s draft.

The franchise has stood firm on the terms it desires for a new deal with the quarterback to this point, but Cousins holds more leverage and should be able to bend Minnesota’s will in the coming days — if he so chooses.

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