Kirk Cousins Expected to Return to Vikings in 2023; Contract Extension Possible

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 18, 2023

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 08:  Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings in action during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on January 08, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings still aren't ready to contemplate a quarterback change from Kirk Cousins.

"It's our expectation that he will be our quarterback," general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah told reporters Wednesday.

Adofo-Mensah didn't rule out an extension for Cousins, either. The four-time Pro Bowler is under contract for one more year and carries a $36.3 million salary-cap hit for 2023.

Ben Goessling @BenGoessling

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said "it's our expectation" Kirk Cousins will be the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Vikings?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Vikings</a>' quarterback in 2023. Couldn't say at this point whether that would be Cousins playing the final year of his deal or receiving an extension this offseason.

Cousins was supposed to lift Minnesota over the top after joining the team on the heels of its run to the NFC title game in 2017. His five years have yielded a divisional round exit in 2019 and a 31-24 loss Sunday to the New York Giants in the wild-card round.

Though Cousins had a respectable line (31-of-39 for 273 yards and two touchdowns) in that defeat, many fans fixated on his final completion of the game, a three-yard pass to tight end T.J. Hockenson on 4th-and-8 with less than two minutes remaining.

Brandon Walker @BFW

Throwing a 3-yard pass on 4th and 8 to end your season is the most Kirk Cousins thing of all time.

In general, the 34-year-old has been perfectly fine for the Vikings, and that's largely the problem. You can theoretically win a Super Bowl with a perfectly fine quarterback, but your margin for error is much smaller than if you had an elite signal-caller.

There's a reason the 49ers traded multiple draft picks to move up to select Trey Lance as Jimmy Garoppolo's potential successor in 2021. Likewise, the Los Angeles Rams recognized they needed to move on from Jared Goff and traded him for Matthew Stafford.

In 17 starts this season, Cousins threw for 4,547 yards and 29 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. He finished 23rd in QBR (50.0) and ranked 11th in defense-adjusted yards above replacement, per Football Outsiders.

The Vikings could do far worse than Cousins, but they could also do better. The trouble for the franchise is that acquiring an upgrade would be difficult.

Any trade for a star quarterback would require multiple first-round picks, and free agency isn't all that helpful. Signing Garoppolo, Geno Smith or Tom Brady would probably be a lateral move, and it's unclear whether Lamar Jackson will even be gettable. In the event Jackson is available via trade, the Baltimore Ravens will almost assuredly have applied the franchise tag, so they'd be in a position to demand a steep price.

Adofo-Mensah's comments reflect that Minnesota is all but locked in with Cousins, for better or worse.