Getty Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell and quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The Minnesota Vikings and quarterback Kirk Cousins now appear to have a better chance of reuniting in 2024 than previously thought.
In most cases, an aging QB who suffers a catastrophic injury during a contract year will lose leverage with both his current team and suitors in free agency. That Josh Dobbs came to Minnesota with considerable success and the subsequent fanfare would make Cousins’ situation with the Vikings more dangerous than ever.
However, on Tuesday, November 14, Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report quoted team sources saying the opposite was true.
My understanding is that both he and the Vikings are much more open to a return in 2024 given what has happened now with Cousins. That could potentially mean a one-year deal, I’m told. But the relationship that Cousins has built not only with Kevin O’Connell, but with the Vikings team, the players, the executives – he’s so respected in that locker room and really in this city.
For a man who seemed to be well on his way to a long-term contract, possibly somewhere else, it seems that Cousins and the Vikings could – I don’t even want to say – fix this marriage because there really was nothing to fix, but I would say “rekindle” would be the right word. Sources have told me that given the relationship they have, the history they have, how comfortable Kirk is with this organization, in this city, this fan base, this SKOL Nation, [the Vikings] It’s entirely possible that Kirk Cousins comes back at least in 2024 rather than moving on elsewhere.
Kirk Cousins’ injury could allow the Vikings to sign him to a preferential contract
Cousins’ Achilles tendon tear and the impact it could have on the type of deal he can get in free agency is one of the biggest factors at play in this discussion.
Cousins played his best football in the first half of the season, leading the league in passing touchdowns. He’s 35 years old, but 35 is the new 30 for QBs in the post-Tom Brady era. Cousins was on his way to a third straight Pro Bowl and likely could have gotten a three-year, nine-figure deal given the NFL’s lack of quarterbacks for a team to seriously compete with.
The math on all of this changes after such a serious injury. But the influence that Cousins will lose at the negotiating table could also, at least temporarily, remove the obstacles that stood in the way of an agreement.
General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah chose not to extend Cousins long-term in either of the previous two offseasons, adding a year to his contract before the 2022 season and not adding any new money or years last offseason. The QB offered Minnesota a reduced rate over the summer but wanted a multi-year deal and the Vikings declined.
Adofo-Mensah said earlier this season that a reunion with Cousins was still on the table. Given Cousins’ health issues and his affinity for the team and city that Schultz mentioned in his report, this reunion is now easier to organize. The Vikings were probably always willing to bring Cousins back in 2024 on a one-year deal for $25 million to $30 million. Now that the team can get the QB to agree to such a contract, a seventh season for Cousins in Minnesota is much more likely.
The loss of Kirk Cousins hits the Vikings locker room hard
Another important factor is how much the rest of the Vikings locker room values Cousins, something Schultz also spoke about on Tuesday.
“We saw how much he meant to this team when he left, and we saw the emotional impact it had on a lot of players in this locker room — not just the receivers, not just on offense, but on defense as well said Schultz. “I know Josh Dobbs has done a great job … but Cousins remains the heartbeat of this franchise. I think his toughness embodies a lot of what Kevin O’Connell and this organization want [in] their quarterback and really in their locker room.”
Minnesota has invested heavily in tight end TJ Hockenson and is expected to do the same with wide receiver Justin Jefferson sooner or later (likely the 2024 offseason at the latest). With two positionally historic pass-catcher contract extensions likely on the books and first-round pick Jordan Addison having a breakout year in his rookie year, the Vikings need to take their decision at the quarterback position incredibly seriously.
Dobbs could be a bridge to a healthy Cousins, or he could be a legitimate answer in his own right. But Jefferson expressed his desire to win when the team struggled early in the season, and Cousins was a winner in Minnesota (50-37-1 regular season record).
The Vikings have a better chance of solidifying their future with Jefferson and their identity as a pass-heavy offensive attack that is a nightmare for defenses if they reunite with Cousins. And if they can do this on a one-year deal at a bargain price, there isn’t much of a good argument for any other approach.
Max Dible covers the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Golden State Warriors for Heavy.com. He covered local and national news as a reporter for West Hawaii Today and served as news director for BigIslandNow.com and Pacific Media Group’s family of Big Island radio stations before joining Heavy. More about Max Dible
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