Mar 1, 2024 - Sports

Vikings have until March 13 to re-sign Kirk Cousins or it's the end of an era

Kirk Cousins throws a football in New York

Kirk Cousins may have thrown his last pass for the Vikings. Photo: David Berding/Getty Images

The next two weeks could dramatically re-shape the Minnesota Vikings for years to come.

The big picture: The team has until March 13 to re-sign quarterback Kirk Cousins. If not, he becomes a free agent and the Vikings will incur a $28.5 million charge against their salary cap, all but guaranteeing that Cousins' days in Minnesota are over.

Why it matters: Letting Cousins walk means the team's "competitive rebuild" that started two years ago would become a full rebuild, of which the team hasn't done since 2014.

Friction point: Cousins has been a very good quarterback for the Vikings and endeared himself to fans.

  • But his large salaries have made it difficult for the team to surround him with enough talent to make a deep playoff run. In six seasons here, he's been paid $185 million but made the playoffs just twice, winning one postseason game.

Between the lines: If the Vikings don't have to pay Cousins something like $40 million a year — the going rate for a franchise QB these days — they will be able to spend that money shoring up their defense, which desperately needs an infusion of talent.

  • The team could keep pending free agent pass rusher Danielle Hunter or sign a similar type of player.
  • They would also have more flexibility to offer contract extensions to wide receiver Justin Jefferson and left tackle Christian Darrisaw, both franchise cornerstones.

What they're saying: General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O'Connell have made it clear they want Cousins back.

  • Cousins has hinted he wants a guaranteed contract beyond 2024, while the team might be hesitant to sign a long-term deal with a 35-year-old rehabbing from an Achilles injury.
  • "At the end of the day … we have our interests, he has his, and we get to the table and see if we can figure out a creative solution and how to meet in the middle," Adofo-Mensah told reporters this week.
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