Should the Vikings Give Kirk Cousins an Extension?
Once again, QB Kirk Cousins is in the Minnesota Vikings offseason discussions. Should Minnesota try to find a trade for him? Should they extend him? Should they simply ride out the final year of his contract and go on their merry way? Here are a few pros and cons regarding the possibility that the Vikings give Kirk Cousins another contract extension.
Pro: Immediate Cap Space
This is obviously the most appealing part of another extension for Kirk Cousins. Per Over the Cap, if the Vikings give their QB an extension it could save them as much as $23 million against the salary cap in 2023.
Currently, OTC has the Vikings listed at $23,433,507 over the salary cap, so there’s potential that an extension gets Minnesota nearly all the way back to even with the salary cap. This makes it much easier to bring in quality free agents, especially on the defensive side of the ball for new defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
Con: He’s 35 in 2023
As consistent as Cousins is in terms of production, he is approaching the latter half of his 30s, which means we could see the veteran QB finally take a bit of a downturn with his statistics. Cousins actually saw dips in his efficiency during 2023, but it was overshadowed (rightfully so) because of terrific play in the clutch.
I wouldn’t expect things to completely go off the rails in 2023, but even if they did, the Vikings only have to bite the bullet for one season if they don’t extend Cousins. If things take a turn after an extension, though, Minnesota could be stuck.
Pro: Vikings Have More Time to Find Long-Term Option
If the Vikings give Cousins an extension, they aren’t under the gun to find his replacement as quickly. Should Cousins play out his contract and hit free agency in 2023, Minnesota finds themselves in a spot where they have to replace him without a ton of great options to turn to.
The Vikings likely won’t be in a spot where they have a top-10 pick in 2024 with Cousins on the roster, which could impact their ability to find a quarterback in that draft. An extension offers Minnesota the flexibility to search past the next 15 months for a quarterback.
Con: Kicking the Can Down the Road
On the flip side, by extending Cousins, the Vikings would just delay the inevitable. Despite his desire to finish his career in Minnesota, Captain Kirk won’t be around forever. At some point, Minnesota has to seriously consider life after Cousins and while offering him an extension puts that reality on the backburner, it doesn’t eliminate its inevitability.
Pro: Maximize the Final Years of Jefferson’s Rookie Contract
Everyone talks about maximizing the years of a QB’s rookie contract by putting a strong roster around them before they have to get paid (à la Russell Wilson in Seattle), but Justin Jefferson is the greatest wide receiver in the NFL and remains on his rookie scale deal. Perhaps the best way to maximize that deal is by keeping Cousins around for the final year plus fifth-year option of that contract.
Con: Have the Vikings Hit Their Cousins Ceiling?
There’s a very real possibility that 13-4 with a disappointing playoff exit could be the ceiling for a Kirk Cousins-led team. Minnesota has made the playoffs twice in five years with Cousins, but they’ve never advanced past the Divisional round. Perhaps an improved defense and a more balanced offensive attack can get them to the promised land, but this Cousins ceiling is something we have to consider.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.