Latest Kirk Cousins Contract Projection is a Slobberknocker

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Like a Mike Tyson uppercut, getting smacked in American Gladiator‘s joust, or when Red narrates his sadness in The Shawshank Redemption, the latest Kirk Cousins contract projection hits pretty hard.

ESPN’s Field Yates — someone who does good work — dropped this tidbit in a recent piece: “If you told me that Cousins winds up signing a two-year, $100 million fully guaranteed contract, I would not be stunned.” Unsurprisingly, the number made the rounds on social media, getting mentioned several times.

The Kirk Cousins Contract Projections are Getting Higher

For a little while, $45 million per season seemed to be the high-end of the projections.

The Pioneer Press‘ Charley Walters and FOX9’s Dawn Mitchell put things around there in earlier discussions of the QB’s contract. For a long time, I’ve been saying $35 million across a couple of seasons, but that’s a number that’s quickly looking far too modest.

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Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) hands off to running back Alexander Mattison (2) in the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

As of right now, the Vikings are sitting on roughly $35 million in cap space. The budget next year is looking robust, tipping the scales at a bit below $140 million (at least in the projection from Over the Cap).

And, of course, there’s the reality that extending Cousins could actually lower the QB’s cap charge in 2024, thus giving Minnesota more money to recharge the roster ahead of the upcoming season. The downside of that approach is simply that money gets shifted to the future, putting the onus on a future budget to account for the accounting.

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

Yates’ number is very likely to be too high. True, there are going to be teams with major interest in the passer, but we’re still talking about a quarterback who is coming off an Achilles tear and entering his age-36 season. Even worse is that he has never been an All Pro or finished as even a runner up for a major award.

Make no mistake: Kirk Cousins is an excellent quarterback, but there has been a limit to his success across his dozen NFL seasons. There are several quarterbacks with $100 million or more that’s fully guaranteed in their deals, but Cousins getting to that total across just two seasons would be stunning.

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) prepares to throw a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Last offseason, Aaron Rodgers’ new deal with the New York Jets featured $75 million in fully guaranteed money across three seasons. Rodgers was older when he put pen to paper, but he was healthy and has a long history of success that includes four MVPs, four first-team All Pro distinctions, and winning a Super Bowl.

Maybe Yates is right. The salary cap is larger than almost anyone anticipated and every year teams do wild things in free agency. The broader context also helps, as Yates explains: “[Cousins] was playing outstanding football at the time of his injury and is the best free agent quarterback available in a thin market and in a league with a bunch of teams desperate for an upgrade.”

Safe to say, though, that if the price is a couple seasons and a fully guaranteed total of $100 million, the Vikings will be moving onto a different option.

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.