The league’s hottest free agent appears to have chosen his landing spot. Kirk Cousins plans on signing a deal with the Vikings on Thursday, pending a team visit today, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Schefter reports the deal will be for three years at $84 million fully guaranteed. That amounts to $28 million per year. The number is slightly less than the $90 million, $30 million per year reports that had surfaced last week. The fact that is a slightly shorter-term deal also means that his contract is unlikely to hamstring the Vikings in the way that others have, most notably the Joe Flacco-Ravens deal.
Minnesota’s signing of Cousins marks the first major free agent quarterback signing the franchise has made since Brett Favre in 2009. Since Favre’s retirement in 2010, the Vikings have tried a bevy of quarterbacks from draft picks to free agent signings. It appeared they had solved their quarterback woes with Teddy Bridgewater before his time in Minnesota was cut short by a catastrophic knee injury.
The Vikings found success in 2017 with Case Keenum at quarterback but by all indications, they viewed him as a good backup. As such, they did not franchise him and Keenum is expected to sign with the Broncos. Bridgewater and Sam Bradford are also expected to sign elsewhere.
With Cousins, the Vikings are getting one of the more prolific quarterbacks in the NFL. He has three straight seasons with at least 4,000 yards, 25 touchdowns and 64 percent completion. Cousins also put up those numbers with average receiving weapons and a talented by oft-injured offensive line. With the Vikings’ receiving corps, the expectation is Cousins puts them over the top as an NFC contender.
The contract is the main sticking point among Vikings fans. The money Cousins will make is not necessarily proportionate with the level of on-field success in his past. However, given the nature of quarterback play in the NFL, the contract is more a matter of timing than anything else. Cousins was next in line for a big contract. He will not be last.
But the money will lead to some changes likely in 2019. For 2018, the Vikings will have to make very few sacrifices to accommodate Cousins. However, next offseason there will be several talented, even Pro Bowl-caliber players in line for new deals. It is likely a couple will be elsewhere by 2020.
For now, the message from Rick Spielman and the Vikings’ front office is clear. They are pushing for a Super Bowl right now. The future is secondary.