Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins contemplating his future: ‘It’s about what the dollars represent’

As star quarterback Kirk Cousins cleaned out his locker on Monday morning at the Vikings’ TCO Performance Center, he told a story that might glean some insight into how he’s going to approach the next couple of months. He recalled being a young player in the NFL and a coach offering him some advice regarding contract negotiations.

“It’s not about the dollars,” the coach told him nearly a decade ago. “It’s about what the dollars represent.”

That exchange has stuck with Cousins ever since, serving as a compass as he’s navigated playing on the franchise tag with the Washington Commanders, signing a fully guaranteed 3-year, $84 million deal with the Vikings, and agreeing to a pair of lucrative contract extensions.

Though he’s made a ton of money along the way, Cousins has always seemed most concerned with whether an organization truly values him. He wants to feel like he’s an important piece of the puzzle. Maybe because he felt that wasn’t the case in the early stages of his career.

That’s something the Vikings are going to have to make clear to Cousins as he contemplates his future. Asked if he plans to involve himself in the nitty gritty of the contract negotiations, Cousins deferred to his agent Mike McCartney while putting the onus on the Vikings to come to the table.

“I’m not going to force anything,” Cousins said. “We will let the team do what they want to do.”

That’s the big question for the Vikings: What do they want to do? There’s no easy answer.

As much as reinvesting in Cousins would theoretically offer stability at the most important position on the field, he currently is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, and will be 36 years old before the start of next season.

It might be hard for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to justify breaking the bank given those parameters.

It’s also worth noting that the Vikings have the No. 11 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and could decide to select a quarterback of the future.

Not that Cousins has any interest in convincing the Vikings to sign him. It goes back to feeling valued. He wants to be wanted.

“I’m not going to try to sell myself,” Cousins said. “I kind of like to let people make their own decisions.”

After restructuring his contract last spring to help the Vikings create some salary cap space, Cousins is likely going to be looking for a pay raise. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for Cousins to seek an average annual value upwards of $40 million considering that’s how much New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is taking home.

If the Vikings aren’t willing to go that high, Cousins almost certainly will have some suitors in free agency if it gets to that point. Would he ever consider taking a hometown discount to stay in Minnesota?

“That’s a really good question,” Cousins said. “I do think it’s important to be aware of. I think that God has blessed me financially beyond my wildest dreams. So, at this stage in my career, the dollars are really not what it’s about.”

It’s about what the dollars represent.

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