QB Kirk Cousins, Vikings Agree to Massive Contract Conversion

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Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs onto the field before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have been hard at work to become salary cap compliant over the past week or so, and on Tuesday, they have made the biggest move yet to free up space for 2023. This time, the move involves QB Kirk Cousins. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that the Vikings would free up cap space by doing a “cap conversion” with the veteran quarterback’s contract.

This agreement is not an extension, but it does free up a truly massive amount of cap space for the Vikings this season. Ben Goessling reported shortly after Rapoport’s tweet that this conversion frees up $16 milion against the cap this season. Prior to this move, Over the Cap had Minnesota sitting right around $10 million above the salary cap, so this may have shot them into the green, depending on what final numbers with Marcus Davenport’s contract look like.

However, whatever salary cap money the Vikings free up now, will eventually have to be paid down the road. Minnesota is already experiencing some of that this year as they hold about $27 million in “dead money” right now for 2023.

Currently, Cousins’ contract has two void years for said “dead money” already, each worth $6.25 million in 2024 and 2025. That means if Cousins is not a Viking next year, Minnesota wiould still have $12.5 million of his money counting on the cap in 2024, and that number is on the rise to potentially $28.5 million following this conversion. Matt Fries broke down the potential numbers nicely on Twitter as well:

This shouldn’t set off any alarm bells as of now, though. The Vikings have found ways to create large amounts of salary cap space for next year, and they seem to have planned precisely for this scenario.

Additionally, as has been talked about ad nauseum throughout Vikings circles, this could be the writing on the wall that Minnesota is seriously considering drafting a quarterback either this spring or next. It’s much easier to take on this amount of dead money when a starting QB on a rookie contract is eating up very little of that salary cap space.

The Vikings needed to find a way to become salary cap compliant by the end of the day, and this move gets them extremely close to, if not finally above, that required compliancy ahead of the official start of free agency on Wednesday, March 15th.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.