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NFL insiders: Kirk Cousins expected to test the market, but don't rule out Vikings stay

"Once we get to Monday... I would anticipate things would move pretty quickly."

The timeline for Kirk Cousins' next career move is becoming clearer, but could the veteran signal-caller ultimately end up staying in Minnesota?

Starting Monday the negotiating window opens for teams across the league to legally begin conversations with prospective free agents, otherwise known as the legal tampering period. Teams will the be able to actually putting pen to paper on those deals starting Wednesday at 3 p.m.

With that in mind the biggest question of the offseason for the  Vikings, and maybe the whole NFL, is where Kirk Cousins will sign and when. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler things could be over before they even begin.

"The latest is that Minnesota and Kirk Cousins have left open the window that they can get something done before Monday's negotiating period," Fowler said on Friday's NFL Live.

The Vikings may still be holding out hope a deal can be made before other teams get involved and raise the price. However, that may not be likely.

"Talking to people around the league, and with both parties, it seems to be trending that he will go to the open market where Atlanta would most likely be waiting," continued Fowler. "The interest is real, it depends on the price point. I'm told that they have to make a 'budgetary decision.' Are they willing to go to that stratosphere, to pay him, or do they wait out a Baker Mayfield. If he goes to the free agency market he'll be a little bit cheaper, or do they go the Justin Fields route? The feeling around the league is Atlanta walks away with one of those three players."

Atlanta and Minnesota have consistently been the top two teams linked with Cousins throughout the offseason. Both teams have nearly identical cap space with Atlanta at $37.2 million and the Vikings at $37.1 million.

While Fowler reported the chance of things wrapping up before Monday, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero believes "Kirk Cousins is going to take this into Monday" to see "what exactly the market place is out there." Interestingly, according to Pelissero, this is what "the Vikings had preferred to let him do as well."

Speaking Friday on The Rich Eisen Show, Pelissero pointed out the Vikings using the negotiating window as a sort of litmus test for what's out there for Kirk. Minnesota are set to incur a $28 million dead cap if Cousins leaves this offseason. Pelissero suggested the Vikings are looking at the 52-hour negotiating window as a way for Kirk to see if his market is really as good as has been speculated.

"I fully anticipate that Atlanta is going to be involved here," continued Pelissero. "There's some other teams, like even Denver, that could potentially be involved. And the Vikings do want Kirk Cousins back, it's just a matter of it's got to be at a price that they can stomach."

ESPN's Field Yates wrote that he "would not be stunned" if Cousins landed a "two-year, $100 million fully guaranteed contract earlier Friday.

"I think that everybody wants Kirk to go out and see the market," Pelissero continued. "And once we get to Monday... when that negotiating window opens, I would anticipate, not a guarantee, but I would anticipate things would move pretty quickly.

"I don't think this is going to go into Wednesday. I don't think it's going to be 'Cousins needs to go take visits.' I think it's pretty clear who the teams involved are going to be. Whether it's Monday or Tuesday, I don't know, but I do think it's going to come together quickly and that's going to bear on everything else that happens in a really fascinating quarterback market."

Kirk Cousins

Aug 27, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High.