The Minnesota Vikings have converted Kirk Cousins contract to create 16 million dollars in cap space. I want to be clear, this is not an extension. Kirk had void years in 2024 and 2025, now there’s 2 additional void years in 2026 and 2027. His last real year under contract is 2023. This conversion shifts some of his 2023 cap hit into dead cap spread across the void years. Prior to the conversion, his cap hit was $36.25 million this year, that drops to $20.25 million after the conversion. The Vikings converted his 20m roster bonus into a signing bonus then distributing that into the void years. The Vikings would incur $28.5 million in dead cap if he doesn’t sign an extension before then.
The #Vikings are doing a cap conversion on QB Kirk Cousins' contract, creating additional salary cap room, source said.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2023
What Does it Mean?
It makes it pretty clear that the Vikings do not plan on extending Kirk Cousins this offseason. It gives them the opportunity to re-sign Kirk after the year if the team is in a suitable place and if Kirk continues to improve under Kevin O’Connell. With the addition of 2 more void years, it provides a rough framework for a potential long term extension. On the other side, it allows the Vikings to bite the bullet and move on from Kirk if needed. The $28.5 million in dead cap is hefty, but if the Vikings move on from Cousins for a rookie QB the overall percentage of cap dedicated to the QB room will not change significantly. Teams like the Rams and Falcons have recently been in a similar situation eating dead cap after trading Jared Goff and Matt Ryan.
What Happens Next?
The Vikings will likely create more cap space through restructures (Brian O’Neill, Harrison Smith) or releases (Z’darius Smith, Harrison Smith) and maybe even a Dalvin Cook trade. I would not rule out a draft day trade for one of the top 4 QBs, ideally if one falls out of the top 10. A day 2 or 3 pick like Hendon Hooker or Tanner McKee might be an option, although non-round one QBs don’t have the best track record historically. I’m going to mention a Lamar Jackson trade here simply because why not? I do not know the specifics yet, but to my knowledge, a team trading for Cousins would inherit a 6 million dollar cap hit in 2023 if the Vikings are responsible for the $42.75 million in dead cap. I believe it is possible for the Vikings to work out a deal where the team trading for Cousins takes on a portion of that dead cap to lessen the burden for the Vikings.