Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Hints at a Kirk Cousins Extension

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Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates the win after the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings don’t seem to be in a rush to move on from their perpetually-controversial quarterback. Indeed, a recent press conference involves some Kwesi Adofo-Mensah hints that Kirk Cousins could stick around for a little while longer.

The young GM isn’t closing the door on Cousins, praising #8 for his various accomplishments: “Kirk doesn’t need to show anything to me. Kirk has played football at a high level before I got to the Minnesota Vikings. Last year, we won 13 games. I don’t know what he would need to prove to me or anybody else.”

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Leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft, a lot of analysts prophesied about Minnesota making a move for a QB. We saw tons of mock drafts connecting the Vikings to Will Levis, Anthony Richardson, and Hendon Hooker in the opening round. Toward the end, there was even a bit of chatter about making a move for C.J. Stroud.

In the end, none of these possibilities materialized. Instead, Minnesota opted for Jaren Hall in the 5th, someone who will compete for the QB2 job in 2023 and beyond.

Nov 26, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) runs the ball against the Stanford Cardinal during the second half at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Initially, I suggested that fans should expect a Kirk Cousins extension. Coming off a season where he was clutch in critical moments – except a consequential 4th & 8 in the playoffs – Cousins deserved some serious consideration for ongoing employment in Minnesota. An extension would prolong his status as QB1 while freeing up precious cap space.

Instead, the team decided to convert some of his compensation to a signing bonus. The end result was $16 million more in cap space for 2023 but a painful $28.5 million dead money hit in 2024 if there isn’t a new deal.

According to the GM, though, the extension door hasn’t been slammed shut. Instead, it has been left ajar, allowing the two sides to walk through together if the willingness is there on each end.

Adofo-Mensah Hints at More Cousins

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was fairly outgoing in his praise for Cousins before noting that there is a willingness to keep discussing an extension.

Per the GM, the previous salary cap shenanigans was mostly a move to help in the immediate: “Sometimes you come to a place where you decide, ‘Hey, let’s talk later. This is a solution for now.’ That’s all that’s happened.”

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Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) celebrate the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

“When you go into a contract negotiation,” the GM explained, “you’re trying to come up with solutions together. It’s not just what Kwesi wants or the Vikings want or even what Kirk wants [it’s] what we can do together and ultimately put together that Lombardi.”

Translation: the GM is still very interested in arriving at a mutually-beneficial middle ground. Paying Cousins a fair wage while also allowing the Vikings to fill out their roster in a robust manner is the key.

Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; A general view of U.S. Bank Stadium as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) leads the offense during the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Essentially, Adofo-Mensah is admitting that he kicked money into the future as a short-term solution – “this is a solution for now” – since the two sides couldn’t find an extension they each liked. Doing so allowed the Vikings to have the finances to bring in talent during free agency. Tacking on the “for now” suggests that there’s openness to circling back to the negotiating table.

Last season, Kirk Cousins threw for 4574 yards, 29 TDs, and 14 INTs. His 8 game-winning drives led the NFL, though his passer rating dipped below 100 for the first time since 2018. He currently has a $20,250,000 cap hit.

After 11 seasons in the NFL, Kirk Cousins has never been on an All Pro team (either first or second). He has been in 4 Pro Bowls but hasn’t garnered any serious consideration for NFL MVP. He’s staring down his 6th year in Minnesota, which will equal his total in Washington.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.