The beginning of the free agency period in the National Football League is rapidly approaching, and the big story for the Minnesota Vikings (and several other less important teams) will be the fate of quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins, who will hit the market after two years of playing under the Franchise Tag with the Washington Redskins, is likely going to command big money on the open market, and it will be a race to see who can afford him.
One particular team with a need at quarterback. . .and a team that has significantly more cap space than the Vikings do. . .is reportedly prepared to turn the market on its head to bring Cousins to town.
According to Brian Costello of the New York Post, the New York Jets are prepared to do pretty much whatever it takes to have Cousins in green and white next year. In fact, the rumor that Costello is reporting is that the J-E-T-S are prepared to offer Cousins a deal that would give him $60 million. . .in the first year of his deal.
The Jets could get creative with their contract offer to Cousins with all of that cap space. The expectation is he is going to exceed the $27.5 million per year that the 49ers just gave Jimmy Garoppolo. Many people think that could mean a five-year, $150 million contract with a good chunk of that guaranteed. One league source speculated the Jets could front-load the contract and offer Cousins $60 million guaranteed in the first year of the contract. That would still leave them with about $30 million in cap space this year and then allow them to build around Cousins with lower cap figures in the remaining years of the contract. Pro Football Talk reported they spoke to people who believe the Jets might be willing to guarantee the entire contract, something unheard of in the NFL for long-term deals.
According to Costello’s story, the Jets could push themselves to around $90 million in cap space by releasing a couple of players. If they did that, they could offer Cousins the $60 million up front and still have a ton of money to play with in free agency.
Let’s make this clear. If the price tag for Kirk Cousins is sixty million freaking dollars in year one, then that’s a definite pass. Not only would the Vikings have to perform some significant salary cap gymnastics just to get to the point where they could offer Cousins that much in the first year of a deal, it would leave them virtually unable to do anything else for the rest of the offseason. You want to shore up the offensive line or get a premiere defensive tackle to pair with Linval Joseph up front? Well, too bad, because you just gave sixty million freaking dollars to one guy for one year.
There is no way the Vikings can offer that sort of money for Cousins, and if that’s going to be the price point, then the Vikings need to be looking in another direction, and quickly.