Vikings Rumors: The QB’s Upcoming Extension, Kwesi’s Roster Takeover, & a Dominant OL

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

We’ve officially transitioned into the portion of the year when Vikings rumors are going to be coming fast and furious.

As a result, I’m returning to the “Vikings Rumor Wrangle,” a series I’ve leaned on previously to keep readers informed on what’s being whispered about in Vikings Land. In this iteration, we discuss the growing chance of extending Kirk Cousins, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s efforts to keep flipping over the Vikings roster, and Minnesota’s desire for a dominant offensive line.

The Vikings Rumors – 05.31.2023

Rumor #1 – Kirk Cousins is Careening Toward an Extension

Careening is certainly too strong, though it merits inclusion because it’s a unique, fun word. In reality, the potential Kirk Cousins extension is possible but not certain. At this stage, I’d give it a 50/50 shot.

Coming into the offseason, I predicted the Vikings would extend #8. Coming off a truly sensational 8 game-winning drives, Cousins certainly merited some serious consideration for further employment in The State of Hockey.

Should the Vikings Give Kirk Cousins an Extension?
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball against the New York Giants during the first quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Accordingly, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has articulated some support for bringing him back. 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.”

Apparently, the previous cap move to push $16 million more of Cousins’ compensation into 2024 was merely “a solution for now.” Apparently, there’s some openness about being able to “talk later.” Translation: an extension is very much on the table.

Under Kevin O’Connell in 2022, Kirk Cousins had reasonably robust numbers. He finished his season with 4547 yards to go alongside 29 touchdowns. The 14 interceptions aren’t ideal, but the 8 game-winning drives certainly are. During the regular season, Cousins was absolutely clutch, regularly driving his team down the field to get the points they needed to get the win.

Rumor #2 – Kwesi is Quietly Taking Over the Vikings Roster

Yes, the new GM has been hard at work.

Rick Spielman still demonstrates significant influence on the roster. After all, most of the team’s preeminent players – Justin Jefferson, Danielle Hunter, Kirk Cousins, Christian Darrisaw, Harrison Smith, Brian O’Neill, and Dalvin Cook (among others) – were all brought aboard by Slick Rick.

However, the trend is changing, as the above chart demonstrates. The number of players on Minnesota’s roster who were drafted or signed by Spielman without having Kwesi adjust their deal is dwindling. Even more wild is that a strong majority of the team’s 90-man offseason roster consists of players solely brought in by Kwesi.

Keep in mind that the 53-man roster will get things closer to balanced. Much of the GM-to-GM discrepancy stems from all of the UDFAs and veteran depth signings that have occurred by Adofo-Mensah’s recent work. In a lot of instances, being a Spielman addition doesn’t matter for the final cuts. Someone like Justin Jefferson has a far higher chance of sticking around than one of the recent additions at receiver. As a result, the 90-man roster offers a more pronounced difference than what the 53-man roster will.

Rumor #3 – The Offensive Line is Ready to Dominate

Offensive line dominance is certainly the goal. And, to be sure, the group does have plenty of potential.

As long as his Achilles heals, Brian O’Neill is very likely to continue asserting himself as being among the game’s best right tackles. Meanwhile, Christian Darrisaw will hope to further solidify his spot as being one of football’s elite left tackles. Partner that with the still-ascending Ezra Cleveland, suddenly competent Garrett Bradbury, as well as the improvement candidate Ed Ingram and there is an OL fivesome that offers reason for excitement.

The History of the Vikings Selecting at No. 23 Overall in the NFL Draft
Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) reacts center Garrett Bradbury (56) and offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Climbing into the “dominant” territory does seem like an elusive goal, though.

Last year, Cousins got hit far too often. He was sacked 46 times, the most of his entire career. Given that Cousins is nearing his 35th birthday, the sack total needs to drop. His health and resilience have been remarkable throughout his NFL career but age catches up with even the toughest players.

Finding a way to keep Mr. Cousins upright with greater frequency while continuing to offer strong run blocking will prompt fan and evaluator alike to reconsider what the Minnesota Vikings offensive line is capable of doing.

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