Kirk Cousins deal with Vikings is ‘done,’ source says
EAGAN, Minn. -- There wasn’t much suspense when Kirk Cousins arrived Wednesday night for a visit to the Twin Cities.
A source had said Wednesday morning about the free agent quarterback joining the Vikings, “It’s done.”
ESPN and NFL Media reported Tuesday that Cousins was expected to sign a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings, making him the NFL’s highest-paid player based on average annual salary.
The Vikings chartered a jet for Cousins, and he arrived at St. Paul Downtown Airport shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday with members of his family before having dinner with team officials. Cousins on Thursday will tour the new Twin Cities Orthopedics Center in Eagan and then sign his contract.
Cousins’ average salary per year will be $28 million. That will top the current highest average of $27.5 million, belonging to San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after he recently signed a five-year, $137.5 million contract.
Cousins, 29, played his first six seasons with the Washington Redskins. After becoming the regular starter in 2015, he has thrown for 4,000 or more yards and 25 or more touchdowns in three straight seasons.
With Cousins joining the Vikings, all three of their free agent quarterbacks have left for deals elsewhere. Case Keenum, last year’s starter, signed a two-year, $36 million contract with Denver on Wednesday.
Teddy Bridgewater, the starter in 2014 and 2015, will sign a one-year deal with the New York Jets that NFL Media reported could be worth as much as $15 million with incentives. And Sam Bradford, the starter in 2016, will sign a contract with Arizona that is worth $20 million for 2018 and has a 2019 option for $20 million.
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you Minnesota,” Keenum wrote on Twitter in a farewell message. “Some of the most incredible, crazy, miraculous moments of my life happened this past year. Couldn’t of happened without y’all. Made this Texas boy feel right at home.”
On Wednesday’s first day of free agency, the Vikings acquired a backup for Cousins in Trevor Siemian, Denver’s primary starter the past two seasons until Keenum arrived. ESPN reported the deal includes the Broncos sending a late-round 2018 draft pick to Minnesota and getting a 2019 selection from the Vikings.
The Vikings obviously hope they won’t need Siemian much in 2018. They won’t if Cousins, who started all 48 Washington games the past three seasons, continues that trend.
Despite his durability and gaudy statistics, there are still questions surrounding Cousins. He had just a 26-30-1 record as a Redskins starter and lost the only playoff game he started.
“The good thing is he’s going to a good team and he has a really good defense, which should help him,’’ said former Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer. “But he has zero wins in any type of playoff situation, and that was one game. Yeah, I think there is skepticism, but it’s up to him to prove them different.’’
Kramer is hopeful Cousins will.
“I’m rooting for him because he’s a Viking now,’’ Kramer said. “And I’m sure that (the Vikings) thought he was the best available (quarterback), so I’m sure they’re happy with him.’’
More will be known next season about the happiness level in Minnesota. With the Vikings having advanced to the NFC Championship in 2017, losing 38-7 at Philadelphia, Cousins was acquired with the goal of taking them to the Super Bowl.
“He knows what he walked into and I think anything less than the Super Bowl might be viewed as unsuccessful for him, whether that’s fair or not,’’ said Fox NFL analyst Charles Davis. “You go to the NFC Championship Game with maybe the top defense in the game and most of it should be coming back intact. Yeah, you’re supposed to be the missing piece.’’
Davis, who broadcast a number of Cousins’ games in recent seasons, believes he has the right temperament for the task.
“I think he’ll fit in very nicely in Minnesota,’’ Davis said. “The knock on him, of course, is that he had no 10-win seasons (as a starter) and a lot of games that were considered winnable, he didn’t win. But the talent he has around him is elevated, so I think it’s going to be a very good spot for him.’’