The Minnesota Vikings opted for continuity on Sunday night, signing quarterback Kirk Cousins to a one-year extension through 2023.
Kirk Cousins isn’t going anywhere.
Despite rumors of the Minnesota Vikings potentially looking to trade the veteran quarterback this offseason, new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah extended him on a one-year, $35 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The move keeps Cousins locked into Minnesota through the 2023 season, with all the remaining money in his pact guaranteed.
By signing Cousins, Minnesota keeps the 33-year-old from being in a lame duck year. The deal also ensures the Vikings can trade him after this season should things not go well, giving them the ability to get more than a third-round compensatory pick if he’s playing elsewhere after 2022.
Mostly, though, it gives the Vikings an above-average quarterback in the first two years (theoretically, anyway) of first-time head coach Kevin O’Connell’s career. O’Connell comes over after serving as the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, and he now has an offense featuring Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook, and receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson.
While Cousins gets criticized for his lack of big-game production at times, his numbers are solid. Last year, Cousins threw for 4,221 yards and 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions in 16 games. In 2020, the former Michigan State star went for 4,265 yards and 35 scores with 13 picks. A three-time Pro Bowler, Cousins has played well enough to win games for Minnesota, but has often been let down by a bad offensive line and questionable coaching.
Additionally, O’Connell now has stability as he tries to get his program off the ground. Instead of fielding questions throughout the offseason on the long-term view of his quarterback, the Vikings have a plan moving forward. They can also draft Cousins’ eventually replacement in 2023 when the rookie crop is expected to be much better than the current group, and allow the youngster to sit behind a veteran for a season.
Ultimately, there’s no real downside to the deal for Minnesota. Cousins gets $35 million in ’23, and if Adofo-Mensah wants to move off him this time next year, that’s a reasonable number to do so at. If Cousins plays really well in O’Connell’s system, the Vikings have their quarterback at a nice rate for another campaign and can then decide on the future afterwards.
Cousins got paid on Sunday night, and the Vikings got stability.
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