Vikings Rumors: Cousins Losing Leverage, Jefferson Talks Return, & Playoffs are Probable

8 Big Storylines for Vikings at Bills
Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) and quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Though we’re now into the portion of the year when Vikings rumors aren’t as abundant, we’ll still be highlighting some of the purple rumblings.

The “Vikings Rumor Wrangle” is a series that keeps readers informed on what’s being whispered about in Vikings Land. In this iteration, we discuss Kirk Cousins losing some leverage in contract negotiations, Justin Jefferson sending out word of his desire to play again, and Minnesota’s tremendous chance of getting into the playoffs.

The Vikings Rumors: 11.15.2023

Rumor #1 — Kirk Cousins is Losing Leverage in Contract Negotiations

There is some cruelty in even exploring the topic, and yet there may be some truth to the idea.

Josh Dobbs has put together a pair of strong performances even though he had been in town for mere days in Week 9 and then a week and a bit in Week 10. If the Passtronaut leads the Vikings to the playoffs and maybe even a win or two while there, will the Vikings then hand over a pile of guaranteed money to #8? Truthfully, no one knows. Much of the season remains and so too do the playoffs. A lot needs to happen.

Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) drops back to pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of people around the Vikings, though, are thinking about the possibility. Consider what Dustin Baker had to say on Vikings Territory: “When Cousins pulls up a chair at the negotiation table in February or March, he’ll ask for his typical $35-$50 million per season. Before Josh Dobbs emerged, the Vikings seemed content to possibly oblige the asking price. But why would Minnesota want Cousins back at a huge pricepoint if Kevin O’Connell’s system, by that time, had evolved to the point where any good quarterback could make the offense hum?”

There are competing forces at work. Kirk Cousins is a beloved leader who was legitimately playing the best football of his career before falling to injury. Until the Achilles, he was an iron man, never getting hurt. And yet there’s also the reality of being 36 next August and coming off of a serious injury. Do those factors fit within Minnesota’s competitive rebuild, especially since he always insists on major guaranteed money?

The better Dobbs (who is 28) plays, the less leverage Cousins will have in February and March. Rest assured, though, that if Minnesota isn’t willing to hand over major money, another team certainly will be. Cousins was playing at an All-Pro level before being lost for the season.

Rumor #2 — Justin Jefferson Took to Social Media to Explain How Excited He is to Return

True, he certainly did.

Take a look at the word from the star receiver: “I can not wait to get on the field with this team again!!!” The receiver even tosses in some emojis at the end of his message, apparently in an effort to further prove his excitement. The tweet has been seen more than two and a half million times, so the message has been heard loud and clear around the NFL.

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Somehow, the Vikings have pulled off five-straight victories without the help from their best player (Calvin Johnson effect?). The possibilities with Jefferson worked back into the mix are certainly intriguing, if not reason for downright optimism (a rare feeling among Vikings fans).

The caveat is simply that Minnesota can’t get away from the things that have made them successful with Jefferson sitting on the sidelines. Continue doing the things that allow Dobbs to shine, which is to say nothing of the excellence from T.J. Hockenson and Jordan Addison. Allow Jefferson to enhance and further develop these positive things.

If successful, Minnesota will march into the playoffs with an offense that’s going to cause a lot of sleepless nights for defensive coordinators.

Rumor #3 — The Vikings are Overwhelming Favorites to Make the Playoffs

That’s the word from a pair of probability heavyweights.

A couple publications you may have heard of — The New York Times and ESPN — insist that Minnesota’s chance of missing the postseason is growing exceedingly small. A wild reality, no doubt, but one that’s still occurring despite the 0-3 start and then 1-4 fate not long afterwards.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates with quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

According to ESPN, the Vikings have an 86% chance of getting into the final tournament. That’s 8th-best in the NFL. Not to be outdone, The New York Times gives Minnesota an 84% shot at making the postseason (up from 20% earlier in the season). Clearly, things have changed for the better in Minnesota.

Next up for the Vikings are the Denver Broncos, a team that is playing some surprisingly competent football recently. Snagging a road victory on Sunday Night Football would mean Minnesota stands at 7-4 and with even more formidable playoffs odds.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.