Kirk Cousins Has Considered a Hometown Discount, So is a Value Deal on the Horizon?

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

After the season, Kirk Cousins explained that he has long thought about giving his team a “hometown discount.” He did so after being directly asked about the possibility.

“Another really good question, Kevin,” Cousins notes, “and one I’ve thought about pretty much my whole twelve years, is that question. I do think it’s important to be aware of.” Not too long afterwards, the QB says that “God has blessed me financially beyond my wildest dreams, so at this stage in my career, the dollars are really not what it’s about.”

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and guard Austin Schlottmann (65) warm up before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

However, the dollars do communicate something. Cousins brings his answer around to his time in Washington where a coach pointed out that the money within a contract sends a message: “We were talking about the situation, and he made a great comment. He said, ‘Kirk, it’s not about the dollars, but it is about what the dollars represent.'”

The QB then explains that “structure is probably more important” than money and that structure refers to “everything that isn’t the dollars.”

Kirk Cousins and The Elusive Hometown Discount

For the first time in a little while, Minnesota has options at quarterback.

Moving up in the draft for a player like Jayden Daniels makes some good sense. So, too, does a trade down as long as the price is right. And lingering behind all of this presence of Nick Mullens, someone who (admittedly) isn’t at the same level as Cousins but who has starting experience, can push the ball downfield, and carries a tiny cap hit.

Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks Nick Mullens (12) and Kirk Cousins (8) talk during warm ups at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Nevertheless, the likeliest option may still be a Cousins reunion. The man himself wants to come back. The team’s general manager and head coach have spoken publicly about wanting him back. The problem, of course, comes down to money.

The range of predictions go from $30 million to $45 million. And within that range of per-year money is a near consensus that the deal will span across a couple seasons. If those broad details are at least somewhat accurate, is there a middle-ground solution that would involve seeing both sides rekindle the relationship?

Aug 26, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) reacts after a game against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, one super easy way for the partnership to continue is for Cousins to drop his asking price by a considerable margin. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell aren’t worried about Cousins’ talent, or lack thereof. Rather, the pair are concerned about how much it will cost to keep that talent in the Twin Cities.

Can they afford Kirk Cousins while also affording Justin Jefferson, Danielle Hunter, Christian Darrisaw, T.J. Hockenson, and several others? The short answer is yes, but there’s a limit when it comes to how high Minnesota can go. Hence, a desire from many for a hometown discount.

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.

Up until this point in his career, Cousins hasn’t come cheap. Now, he would likely move the conversation in a different direction. Back in 2018, Cousins could have made more money had he opted to sign with the New York Jets. Instead of doing so, Cousins left money on the table to become a Viking. So, to a certain extent, the money has already been moved down to help the Vikings in the past.

For many, though, that response won’t be particularly persuasive. A lot of Vikings fans want huge savings, the kind of money that could put a major dent into other roster needs.

To that end, Cousins left the door slightly ajar. Per Over the Cap, Kirk Cousins has brought in roughly $231 million across his NFL career, a stunning amount that becomes even more wild when we remember that he was originally a 4th-round selection who was being relied on to backup Robert Griffin III. So, Cousins has proven to be quite adept at both exceeding expectations and making money.

Dec 5, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) yells out before the snap during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

The small possibility exists that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah does some contract communicating that doesn’t involve fully draining the ATM.

Put differently, can the structure of Minnesota’s contract offer — the component of a deal that Cousins suggests is most important — send the message that Cousins wants to be sent? Would adding on a third year be enough to persuade him to lower his annual price tag? That kind of deal could allow Cousins to retire in Minnesota, something he has consistently said he wants. After all, he recently said in an interview on CBS that he’s eyeing two or three more years. Would Adofo-Mensah guarantee he can play those years in Minnesota?

Prior to getting hurt in 2023, Kirk Cousins was playing at an All Pro level. He had shepherded his team back up to a .500 record. He did so while tossing 2,331 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. All of that from within a team that was finding its defensive footing and struggling to run the football.

Don’t be surprised to see the QB and team eventually come around to an agreement, but my best guess is that a deal will only get done on March 11th or 12th.

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

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.