Kirk Cousins’ Contract Details, Salary Cap Impact, and Bonuses

Few NFL quarterbacks have used contractual leverage quite like Kirk Cousins. What does his contract with the Minnesota Vikings look like in 2023?

Few NFL players have manipulated free agency to their advantage with as much success as quarterback Kirk Cousins, who worked through consecutive franchise tags with Washington before landing a fully guaranteed contract from the Minnesota Vikings in 2018.

Cousins, 35, has since inked multiple extensions to remain in purple, but he could be nearing the end of his road with the Vikings. What does his contract with Minnesota look like, and what options will Cousins have in 2024?

Kirk Cousins’ Contract Details and Bonuses

Cousins’ first pact with the Vikings was a three-year, $84 million accord scheduled to take him through the 2021 campaign. In 2020, he inked a two-year extension that ran through 2022.

Cousins signed his most recent extension with Minnesota on March 13, 2022. Instead of entering a lame-duck season with the Vikings, Cousins landed a one-year, $35 million extension that locked him in through the 2023 season.

Cousins’ deal is fully guaranteed for skill, cap, and injury purposes and contains a full no-trade clause. He already had void years in his contract in 2024 and 2025, but his extension added two more dummy seasons in 2026 and 2027.

Cousins’ 2023 Salary Cap Charge

Cousins’ $35 million in new money was comprised of a $25 million signing bonus and a $10 million base salary.

Under the terms of his previous agreement, he was also due to collect a $20 million roster bonus in 2023.

MORE: Minnesota Vikings Season Schedule

Instead, the Vikings restructured Cousins’ contract in March 2023, converting that roster bonus into a signing bonus. That maneuver allowed Minnesota to prorate that $20 million over the next five seasons (four of which are void years) and $16 million on its 2023 cap.

All told, Cousins’ $10 million base salary, $6.25 million in signing bonus proration, and $4 million in restructure proration equals a 2023 salary cap charge of $20.25 million.

Cousins’ Potential 2024 Dead Money

Cousins is now playing in the final season of his contract with the Vikings. While he’s said he’d like to remain in Minnesota, Cousins also suggested he doesn’t expect to discuss a possible extension with the club until next offseason.

Because the Vikings have employed void years to prorate Cousins’ various bonuses, they’ll be left with the remnants of his contract even if he signs elsewhere in free agency.

All of Cousins’ dead money — $28.5 million — would accelerate onto Minnesota’s salary cap in 2024 unless the two sides work out a new deal.

Cousins said this week he understands he’s playing for his job in 2023.

“Tom [Brady] made the point that there is no entitlement in the NFL,” Cousins said. “And if there is entitlement in the NFL, that organization is probably doing it wrong.

“I think it’s healthy when players need to go out every day, and nobody is entitled to anything … If it ever isn’t that way here, I would be the first one to complain and say, ‘I sense some entitlement, and let’s change that.'”

Can the Vikings Franchise Cousins in 2024?

If the Vikings want to retain Cousins, they’ll have to sign him to an extension — the franchise tag won’t be an option.

Cousins’ contract is set to expire the day before the NFL’s 2024 league year begins on March 13, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That’s five days after the NFL’s deadline for teams to deploy their one-year, fully guaranteed franchise tenders.

Even without that clause, the Vikings probably wouldn’t have been able to tag Cousins in 2024. Because it would have been Cousins’ third career franchise tag, he’d have been entitled to a 44% raise, bringing his cap charge to $52.2 million next season, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

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