“Playing with Fire” and “a Dangerous Game.” NFL Analyst Sends Vikings a Warning

Dec 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) looks on before the game against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Not only is Mike Florio one of the more well-connected NFL analysts in the league, but at the end of the day, he also happens to be a fan of the Minnesota Vikings.

The founder of Pro Football Talk on NBC spoke on the Minnesota Vikings and their offseason approach thus far, and to Florio’s mind, the Vikings have put themselves in a dangerous spot with some of their stars. Namely, Florio discussed the contracts of both Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson.

NFL Analyst Sends Vikings a Warning

NFL Analyst
Oct 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Here is what Florio had to say of Minnesota’s approach to the Cousins negotiation:

The Vikings are playing a dangerous game of chicken here if they want him. Maybe they don’t and they’re looking for a way to ease out of it. But if they want him, Zygi, Mark, Kevin, Kwesi, you’re going to blow it. You need to get it done now. You definitely need to get it done before Mike McCartney, his agent, goes to Indianapolis and has all the tampering meetings that we know are going to occur.

Because he’s going to come out of Indy knowing exactly what the Falcons will pay, exactly what anyone else will pay and it’s going to be too late. I guarantee you. You got 10 days, Vikings. You got 10 days. The clock is ticking. You got 10 days. If you wait, Kirk’s going to be gone. And if you don’t want him, that’s fine. But if you want him, you better get your asses moving.

That 10-day timeframe to get the deal done has now dwindled to just one week with the NFL scouting combine set to begin next Monday on February 26th. Cousins, who is coming off an Achilles injury in 2023, is set to enter free agency for the first time since signing with the Vikings back in 2018. Since then, he has ensured that he continuously has guaranteed contracts in place.

Now, though, the Vikings will be forced to either give the soon-to-be 36-year-old QB another lucrative deal or find a replacement. Cousins currently has $28.5 million in dead money that will count against the cap if the Vikings don’t re-sign him by the time the new league year rolls around.

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

On top of the lack of commitment to Cousins, Florio believes the Vikings could cause Justin Jefferson’s patience to run out. The star wide receiver is still awaiting his contract extension, which many believe will be the largest contract handed out to a non-QB in NFL history.

The question is, will the Vikings be the team to pay him that contract? Florio joined KFAN’s Paul Allen this week to discuss Jefferson’s negotiation and suggested that the star could run out of patience.

“They are playing with fire here on multiple fronts between Justin Jefferson, whose patience is eventually going to run out. I can confidently say that J.J. is very patient, but his patience will have its limits, and the problem continues to be, not the dollars, but the structure,” Florio told Allen.

Specifically, Florio believes that the Vikings have been unwilling to give Jefferson an adequate amount of fully-guaranteed money. “The Vikings are one of the few teams that will not fully guarantee beyond the first year of the contract for anyone other than Kirk Cousins. If you’re not going to make that same exception for Justin Jefferson, you are going to have a problem with Justin Jefferson eventually,” Florio explained.

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates his touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Jefferson missed seven games and a large chunk of an eighth during the 2023 season, but that still didn’t stop him from recording 1000 receiving yards for the fourth straight time to begin his NFL career. He also broke Michael Thomas’ record for most receiving yards through a player’s first four seasons.

Overall, the Vikings have some very important decisions to make this offseason, and if Florio is correct, they will need to make these decisions sooner rather than later.

Free agency officially begins on March 13th with a 48-hour legal tampering period getting started on March 11th. The Vikings are currently slated to hold about $24.6 million in salary cap space.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Over the Cap and Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. 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.