Vikings Make Final Call on Fully Guaranteed Contract for Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins, Vikings

Getty QB Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings want to keep Kirk Cousins around, but they aren’t willing to do so at any cost.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported on Monday, February 19, that while the team has yet to make a final call on Cousins’ ultimate return, it has already drawn a line in the sand on certain financial terms if the quarterback decides he wants to come back.

“The current Minnesota brass, now going into its third season, really likes Cousins, but it’s also been made clear that they’re not going to go contractually where the previous regime did twice and give Cousins a fully guaranteed deal,” Breer wrote. “Absent that, Cousins is now in position to hit the market like he did six years ago, this time older and, of course, more injured.”

Vikings Prime Candidates to Trade Up in NFL Draft for QB Like Drake Maye of UNC

UNC vs NC State Live Stream

GettyQuarterback Drake Maye of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

The guaranteed money may end up a sticking point that lands Cousins in another city, as at least one QB-starved team around the league figures to be desperate enough to pay it. That Minnesota doesn’t feel that way indicates the franchise has a backup plan in which it is confident.

The Vikings own the No. 11 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, which is too low to land one of the three superstar quarterback prospects. Dan Graziano of ESPN on February 10 suggested Minnesota as one of two teams poised to trade up with the New England Patriots into the No. 3 pick, presumably to make a play for whichever QB remains available between Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye.

“The Patriots also need a quarterback, but there are people around the league who believe they are open to trading the No. 3 selection,” Graziano wrote. “The two teams I’d keep an eye on are the [Atlanta] Falcons … and the Vikings.”

Another path for the Vikings could be to trade down, then select a QB they like with better value in the late first round or sometime on Day 2. Alec Lewis of The Athletic suggested on February 13 a third route, in which the Vikings could use their second-round pick (No. 42 overall) and a couple of selections in later rounds over the next two years to trade up with the Baltimore Ravens at No. 30.

Lewis suggested the move as a play for Oregon quarterback Bo Nix, who will enter his rookie season at 24 years old. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2023 and is the type of mature signal-caller who could theoretically be ready to start Week 1 of his first NFL campaign.

Vikings Risk Alienating Justin Jefferson by Playing Hardball With Kirk Cousins

Justin Jefferson, Kirk Cousins

GettyMinnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (left) and quarterback Kirk Cousins (right).

Minnesota’s position on Cousins is entirely justified in a vacuum. The QB will play next season at 36 years old and is coming off the most catastrophic injury of his NFL career — a torn Achilles tendon suffered in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers. But there is context for the Vikings to consider.

Wide receiver Justin Jefferson is up for a new deal, which will likely reset the market at the position. That contract, however, has not been signed. Jefferson can play next season for the Vikings on the team’s fifth-year option and then head to free agency in March 2025.

Minnesota would almost certainly use the franchise tag to hold onto Jefferson a year from now, which likely mitigates some of the front office’s fears of upsetting and subsequently losing one of the best players in football. But alienating him could be just as big of a problem.

Eventually, even if it is two or three seasons from now, Jefferson will be able to force his way into unrestricted free agency and reset the market at that time. Jefferson turns just 25 years old in June. If Minnesota plays its cards right, the franchise may be able to hold onto him for his entire career. If the Vikings play it wrong, the wideout could be gone by his late 20s.

Jefferson said last week that he wants clarity on the quarterback situation before committing to Minnesota long-term. That doesn’t necessarily mean he needs Cousins back to go all-in with the Vikings, but it does mean he wants a degree of certainty at the position. Right now, there are no assurances the front office can provide Jefferson, and that is a serious issue.

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