The High Bar Kirk Cousins Must Clear for His Next Vikings Deal

Kirk Cousins, Vikings

Getty Quarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings.

In 2022, Kirk Cousins reached new heights, winning 13 games and clinching his first NFC North title as quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings — and it wasn’t enough.

Cousins and the Vikings could not agree upon a contract extension in the offseason, sending the 35-year-old quarterback into the final year of his contract. The new regime under Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell has tread cautiously in tying their fate to Cousins, which begs the question of what it would take of Cousins to get the Vikings to commit long-term.

Purple Insider’s Matthew Coller sees the NFC Championship being the benchmark Cousins must reach if the Vikings would re-sign him.

“I think the bar is extremely high for Kirk Cousins to get an extension. … I think the way this regime has not bought into Cousins… to him has probably been pretty off-putting,” Coller said on the “Purple Insider” podcast on September 7.

“If I was in his position and I won 13 games and put up good numbers and had all these fourth-quarter comebacks and got the ball to [Justin] Jefferson as much as I did and they came to me and said, ‘How about a contract that doesn’t keep us locked into you?’ I’d be like, ‘No. What’s your problem? I’m going somewhere else.’ ”

Cousins made it clear in June that he doesn’t intend to start negotiations again until next March, lending his camp time to consider other options around the league.

“This is the right handling for both parties. Unless they go to the NFC Championship I think the Vikings and Kirk are best going through this season… and then just parting ways, unless it is so good, and they have a top-five offense and they’re in the NFC Championship that you just have to do it,” Coller added.

Kirk Cousins Addresses Uncertain Future With Vikings

Approaching the Vikings’ season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cousins addressed his future in Minnesota and how he’s never felt complacent with his status as a quarterback.

“It’s sort of been life for me,” Cousins said in a September 6 media conference. “I would even go back to college [at Michigan State] with quarterback competitions with Nick Foles. You basically felt that you’re going out there every day and putting your job on the line. That’s quarterbacking. I’ve been doing it for 16 years. This will be my 17th.

“That’s kind of the life you live. And I think when you take that seriously, that lends itself to having success more days than not.”

Cousins borrowed an adage from Tom Brady when the New England Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014 as a potential successor to the future Hall of Fame quarterback.

“Tom made the point that there is no entitlement in the NFL,” Cousins said. “And if there is entitlement in the NFL, that organization is probably doing it wrong. I think it’s healthy when players need to go out every day, and nobody is entitled to anything. I think that’s a healthy way to run an organization. It’s going to bring out the best in all of us. If it ever isn’t that way here, I would be the first one to complain and say, ‘I sense some entitlement, and let’s change that.’ ”

Vikings Coach Kevin O’Connell Shares His Support for Kirk Cousins

While Cousins continues to shrug off the questions facing his future, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell hasn’t let Cousins forget the impact the veteran quarterback has on the team.

“A lot of the time,” O’Connell said Wednesday, “it’s just asking the questions: Where’s his head at? How’s he feeling? Most of the time [the conversation] veers toward scheme and how we want to play and what’s being asked of him and how he can do his job at a really high level. But I think it would naïve of me not to at least be there for him in a way where he knows that I fully, fully support him not only as our captain and our starting quarterback, but he knows my feelings towards him.”

While the new regime navigates its future and whether it can take on the financial weight of a veteran quarterback like Cousins, the locker room is behind him. Cousins received all but one vote for team captain this season; that one vote missing was his own.

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