Source: Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins agrees to one-year extension worth $35 million
12:53 AM CET
Kevin SeifertESPN Staff Writer
The Minnesota Vikings agreed to terms on a new contract Sunday with quarterback Kirk Cousins, the team announced, giving him an immediate raise and also fully guaranteeing an additional season in 2023 to help alleviate their tight salary cap.
The deal ensures that Cousins will remain the Vikings' quarterback as the franchise begins a new era with general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O'Connell.
The Vikings announced the news Sunday evening, adding another chapter to Cousins' unprecedented success on the business side of football.
"I am thrilled for the opportunity to play for Kevin and could not be more excited about the direction of our team," Cousins said in a statement. "As soon as we return to TCO Performance Center next month, we will begin working toward our collective goal of bringing a championship to Vikings fans."
Under the terms of his previous contract, Cousins was due to receive $35 million in cash and count for $45 million against the Vikings' 2022 cap. By extending the deal into 2023, and adding two voidable years in 2024 and 2025, the team lowered his cap number to $31.25 million this season, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Cousins will earn $40 million in 2022 and $30 million in 2023. All of it is fully guaranteed, and Cousins will receive $50 million of the $70 million by mid-March 2023. Cousins' immediate future had been in some doubt given the Vikings' salary cap trouble. They entered the weekend needing to clear $17 million in cap space by Wednesday in order to comply with the NFL's $208.2 million cap for 2022.
O'Connell had previously worked with Cousins while the two were in Washington, but when asked at his introductory news conference last month whether Cousins was his quarterback moving forward, O'Connell noted that Cousins was "under contract" -- a decidedly neutral endorsement. Cousins' contract made a release untenable, even if that's what the team's new leadership preferred, and it's unclear if there were any serious trade discussions.
"Kirk was one of the first players I called when I joined the Vikings, and it was immediately clear how much he cares about this organization and about winning" Adofo-Menshah said in a statement. "High level quarterback play is a prerequisite to building a championship team, and we are confident Kirk will continue along that path."
The Vikings have ranked among the top 10 in scoring just once during Cousins' tenure (2019) and finished the 2021 season 14th in scoring and 12th in yards. Cousins recorded one of the best seasons of his career last season, however, throwing for 4,221 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Minnesota had 14 games decided by one possession (the most of any team in 2021), including eight losses in one-score games.
Cousins, 33, has worked the NFL's labor rules to his advantage better than any player in league history. He played under the franchise tag in 2016 and 2017, his final two seasons with Washington, and then used that leverage to enter the free-agent market in 2018. He has now signed three fully guaranteed contracts with the Vikings, and his $158.9 million in earnings between 2016 and 2021 are the most by any player in the NFL over that period.
By the end of the 2023 season, he will have earned at least $231.7 million in his career.
Not bad for a 5th round pick that has been little more than average in his career. Granted, he has been better than many of the lame QBs Chicago has trotted out over the same time span. But I always felt Cousins was over rated and over paid. I am all for division rivals to further bury themselves in future cap debt and dead money. Especially now, that Poles is cleaning out the Bears cap situation. Even against the Nagy Bears, Cousin's has been lucky to split the head to head with the Bears. He is 3-4 against Chicago since coming to Minnesota.