Kirk Cousins, Innocent as a Dove & Wise as a Serpent

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins’ workout video shows us far more than just a sturdy Achilles.

Releasing the video for the world to see is a strategic move that demonstrates the QB’s understanding of what’s immediately around the corner. The NFL in its entirely is going to Indianapolis for The Combine. Presumably, Cousins’ agent — Mike McCartney — is going to be doing some of the free agency legwork a bit early to get a sense of which teams are truly interested in signing his client. Does the video help?

Kirk Cousins is Always Negotiating

The interpretation is fairly consistent across the board.

Pro Football Talk saw the tweet, responding, “Just in time for Tampering Central to convene on Indianapolis.” ESPN’s Kevin Seifert ventured into a similar thought: “Just in time for the start of the conversations that never happen because they’re not allowed between teams and agents at the NFL scouting combine…”

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) sounds the gjallarhorn before the game against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, Cousins isn’t outright saying that he’s giving his agent ammunition to tamper. Instead, he’s proceeding with a certain degree of innocence, merely posting a video to express thanks about how far he has come with his recovery: “Almost 4 months in now…encouraged by the progress! Grateful [f]or all the help around us.”

Put two and two together, though, and it’s not difficult to see what’s taking place. And, truth be told, the NFL likely doesn’t care. The league thrives on rumor, speculation, and conjecture. Creating a social media stir is good for business (both for Cousins individually and the league more broadly).

Mike Florio — who is never shy expressing his Kirk Cousins opinions — offers a few more thoughts on the matter: “And now, in Indy, his agent will find out which teams will be interested in signing him — and possibly the range of offers that will be made when the legal tampering period opens two weeks from today.”

Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Florio goes on, suggesting that Minnesota is journeying into risky territory since they’ll soon lose their exclusive negotiating power: “The Vikings have had exclusive dibs on negotiating with Cousins. That’s evaporating this week, as a practical matter. If the Vikings want to keep him, they’re taking a huge risk that someone else will move quickly at a time when the Vikings have been dragging their horns in the dirt.”

To a certain extent, Florio is correct. Another team could swoop in and reveal that they’re willing to drain the ATM for Mr. Cousins. In that scenario, the Vikings could be put in a precarious position.

That being said, I don’t think that’s going to be too much of an issue. If anything, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah may welcome other teams jumping into the bidding. Doing so will fully clarify what’s necessary to keep Cousins in town. The GM is always hungry for extra data points while tackling complex problems, so he may seen more information — e.g. offers from other teams — as being beneficial rather than detrimental.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates a touchdown pass with the offensive line during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Letting Kirk Cousins see what’s out there will clarify how high the Vikings will need to go to keep him in The North Star State. And while the possibility exists that a team is willing to go super high, the possibility also exists that there isn’t a team willing to do so. In the latter scenario, Minnesota would get a lot more leverage back.

In fact, the Vikings may even look to thread the needle, re-signing Cousins during the legal tampering window from March 11th to 13th. It’s within that two-day span that the QB can decisively see where a team is willing to go with a deal. If no one is capable of blowing Minnesota’s offer to smithereens, then ongoing employment in Minnesota makes the most sense.

Negotiation tactics aside, Kirk Cousins genuinely does look good in the brief clip. The 35-year-old will be hoping that his health continues moving in the right direction regardless of where he plays in 2024.

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.