The Minnesota Vikings and Kirk Cousins appear to be at odds in ongoing contract talks that would make Cousins a Viking for the rest of his career.
The ultimatum was set after NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero reported on February 26 that he does not expect another one-year contract extension for Cousins. The Vikings will either allow Cousins, who will be 35 before the start of the 2023 season, to play out the final year of his deal next season or extend him to a multiyear deal.
Cousins’ representation, which has made him the 11th highest-paid player in NFL history, earning over $200 million by the end of his current contract, has touted this offseason that they expect another extension.
However, when Kwesi Adofo-Mensah spoke with beat reporters in a side session at the NFL combine Indianapolis on Tuesday, the Vikings general manager revealed an impasse in contract talks.
“Obviously from [Cousins’] side, they want it as certain as possible, and from our side, we want flexibility,” Adofo-Mensah said, referring to Cousins looking for another fully guaranteed deal after becoming the first player to receive a deal of that nature in 2018. “You’re always trying to be solutions-oriented and find a way that works for both people.”
Every year of Cousins’ contract has been fully guaranteed, however, with a deteriorating defense, the Vikings appear to want more flexibility to rebuild the roster.
Adofo-Mensah Says Kirk Cousins Meets the Championship Standard, But That May Not Be Enough to Keep Him
Unprompted during his broader press conference that day, Adofo-Mensah said Cousins meets the threshold of a winning quarterback. However, after years of poor drafting, the Vikings have struggled to develop the backbone of the roster that can support Cousins on a veteran deal.
Budgetary veterans signings have filled the holes perennially for a team that has won just one playoff game in five seasons after making the NFC Championship game in 2018.
The Vikings have yet to admit to closing that Super Bowl window even after the league’s No. 1 defense has since dissolved with few players from that roster left.
But with a veteran quarterback who makes nearly 10 times more annually than a rookie arm, the strain on the salary cap has been felt for years. Mike Zimmer expressed his worry about the roster-building limitations an expensive quarterback could have on the roster at the 2018 combine, saying it could “take away from the rest of the things” that had gotten Minnesota a game away from the Super Bowl.
Rick Spielman opted to go all-in, singing Cousins to a three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed deal that year — a move that proved to be the demise of the old regime that failed to reinforce the roster around Cousins.
That’s a dilemma Adofo-Mensah may not want to define tenure with the Vikings, especially with Cousins approaching the twilight of his career. Whether Cousins is willing to agree to a more flexible final contract of his career appears to be the crossroads in Minnesota.
“If the solutions don’t work out for either side, that is what it is, but we love what we’ve done so far with him and we obviously want to continue it,” Adofo-Mensah said, per Coller.
Vikings Meet With Potential Successor to Cousins, Florida QB Anthony Richardson
The Vikings will meet with at least 40 draft prospects by the end of the combine this week, and they’ve already met with one of the draft’s biggest stars.
KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported on March 2 that the Vikings have met with Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson. Richardson is considered one of the most physically-gifted quarterbacks since Cam Newton, however, he is raw with just one year of college playing experience.
Minnesota would likely have to trade up to land Richardson in the draft. However, the Vikings expressed their desire to develop a young quarterback before throwing him in as a starter, making this offseason to land the franchise’s next quarterback if Cousins is allowed to play out the final year of his deal.