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A Vikings-Cousins mock negotiation (2024 version)

A report on Monday said the Vikings do not want to fully guarantee Cousins' next contract. What could the two sides be debating when they hit the negotiating table?

No you are not having Deja vu, the Minnesota Vikings are once again standing at a crossroads with quarterback Kirk Cousins and the outside world is trying like mad to figure out what’s going to happen next. On Monday Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported that the Vikings’ brass is not willing to give the veteran quarterback a fully guaranteed contract as their predecessors once did.

Breer did not close the door on the possibility that Cousins could return, however he name dropped the Raiders and Falcons as teams with similar offensive systems and quarterback vacancies that could make offers.

It all reads the same way that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s previous on-the-record comments have read all along: The team will have its price on Cousins and if he doesn’t agree to it then they will move on. Last week NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero name dropped one potential QB option as being Sam Darnold and ESPN’s Dan Graziano mentioned them as a potential team to watch in trade-up scenarios.

Where is that price? Let’s have a look at the situation from Cousins’ perspective and the team’s viewpoint and see if we can work to common ground in a mock negotiation… (for those of you with a good memory, this is the second iteration)

*all salary cap numbers via

Vikings opening proposal

Kirk-o, buddy, how’s the leg? We want to start out by saying we have been watching the Netflix documentary on a loop over the last few weeks with your game tape from the 49ers and Packers games this year mixed in and we’re very excited to make you an offer. Hey, is that a new plaid dress shirt? Looking good my man.

Anyhoo, we have done a lot of soul searching and number crunching and we came up with two years, $68 million with $35 million guaranteed.

Here’s how we got to that number: If you look at Jimmy Garoppolo and Geno Smith’s recent contracts, they totaled $33 million and $27 million fully guaranteed, respectively. Obviously we think you are better than both of those QBs but they aren’t that far behind. Jimmy went 16-9 with a 100.5 QB rating before the Raiders signed him and Geno led the NFL in completion percentage and threw 30 TDs with a 100.9 rating in 2022.

With both of those guys there were reasons to pay them and reasons for some skepticism. Jimmy had injury issues and Geno was a one-year wonder. Kirky, your QB rating under Kevin O’Connell is 96.2 and you are coming off an Achilles tear. Frankly we believe that you are going to be in tip-top shape but you have to understand that we are taking on some risk there. We also can’t name any QBs who aren’t going to wear gold jackets that succeeded past age 36. That makes a longer commitment tough.

So we think that the structure of the contract should be most of the guarantees in the first year and then Year 2, well, we’ll see. In Geno’s deal they worked in roster bonuses and escalators. We are happy to do that. Let’s say we toss in that if you play 14 or more games and throw for 4,000 yards and win a playoff game then we make this thing $45 million guaranteed.

Oh and, uh, about that no-trade clause, that’s going to be a no from us.

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins

Cousins representation’s counter proposal

Fellas, great to see you again. For some reason I feel really comfortable negotiating for Kirk, not sure why. Did you see him dancing around shirtless on TV? Tendons heal quicker these days with modern science you know, I can just see him throwing darts at OTAs in a few months.

Well, let’s take a look at this number you tossed our way. Not bad. But here’s where I’m struggling a bit: Kirk is not Jimmy G or Geno. He’s gone 17-8 as the quarterback under KOC and if we are being honest there were more than a few of those losses that fell at the hands of the defense or bounced off the hands of somebody. Since KOC took over, he produced the 7th most points and that was sure as heck not because of the running game. Jimmy was a system QB for Kyle Shanahan and never stayed healthy and Geno didn’t have anywhere near the track record over many years. We see the comps as being much closer to Derek Carr and Matthew Stafford.

Stafford signed a four-year extension worth $160 million that had $63 million fully guaranteed and Carr did a four-year, $150 million deal with $60 million fully guaranteed. Both of those QBs have similar stats, similar tenures as franchise QBs and similar ages and they both have had a few bumps and bruises along the way like this little Achilles thing.

Here’s our other issue: Daniel Jones. Give Danny Dimes his props, he won at US Bank Stadium but if our thing is “what the dollars represent” then it’s hard to sign a contract that’s less in terms of average annual value than Danny Boy at $40 million per year.

We are well aware that you folks can add some void years just like the Saints did with Carr and Rams with Stafford and lower those pesky cap hits. Carr’s cap number was only $7.3 million this year and a very manageable $35 million in 2024, for example.

Of course we understand that a fourth year isn’t something you want to do, how about three years, $120 million with $61 million guaranteed.

Vikings response

We totally get what you are saying — hey, is that your Ferrari parked out front? Huh. Well, look, here’s what we are dealing with: We don’t have any defensive linemen and only two draft picks in the top 100. Don’t forget that we renegotiated last year so we have to deal with some of that $28 million in dead cap getting spread out. We can’t just have a $7 million cap hit like you mentioned with Carr. Because of your negotiating skills in the past the lowest percentage of the cap Kirk has ever made up is 9.2% and the highest is over 17%. How are we going to be able to give him a left guard, a couple more receivers and a defense if we are still paying your price?

Now we don’t want to get too honest here but this model hasn’t exactly taken us to the promised land. And our former quarterback head coach has his eyes on some guys in the draft that might be interesting. It’s not like we have no other options here. Other people can throw the ball to Justin Jefferson, ya know.

OK, OK, we won’t go any further, we love Kirk, it’s just that he can’t be the whole team and we need to have flexibility to sign some other dudes that are going to help us stop opposing offenses from running up and down the field against us.

How about this, we’ll go up to $74 million total and a team option to make $60 million fully guaranteed next February. If we don’t pick that up then Kirk becomes a free agent and you can go out to the market then.

Cousins representation’s counter

Well, we just heard from the Falcons and they are willing to go two years, $80 million with $50 million fully guaranteed and Kirk gets to play in the NFC South. But he really likes TCO Performance Center, his kids’ kindergarten and Justin Jefferson so we will take the same offer from you guys and return. Will you match it?


In this scenario it would not be surprising if the Vikings walk away from the table like they did last year.

There could very well be a middle ground for the Vikings and Cousins but based on their negotiations last offseason and Breer’s reporting it does not appear that the team is going to be extremely flexible. If Cousins does not get another offer that tops what the Vikings are willing to give him then he could return. But if a team like the Raiders or Falcons decides to go all-in on him then they will likely land his services.

One thing we know that’s different this year from last year: We will have an answer soon.