The Minnesota Vikings are gearing up for the start of free agency next week, but it doesn't appear that they will be getting a contract done with quarterback Kirk Cousins before the new league year begins March 18.
ESPN's Courtney Cronin reported Saturday that the two sides would both like to get a deal done and have exchanged numbers, but there may be obstacles in the way including Cousins' desire to get fair market value.
"Could an extension happen down the road?" Cronin asked. "Sure. But it's more likely that Cousins, who created substantial leverage for himself with a strong 2019 season, is going to wait to see what other quarterbacks make in free agency -- particularly Dak Prescott -- before agreeing to anything."
For Cousins, waiting to see how the quarterback market shakes out this spring is a wise strategy. This year's free-agent market includes names like Tom Brady and Philip Rivers while also having wild cards such as Teddy Bridgewater and potentially Jameis Winston.
Since Cousins signed his three-year, $84 million contract in the spring of 2017, the cost of signing a quarterback has continued to go up as Russell Wilson leads the NFL with an average of $35 million per season.
Deals to Los Angeles' Jared Goff ($33.5 million) and Philadelphia's Carson Wentz ($32 million) have re-shaped the market as well, which has created a standoff between Dallas and Prescott, which could be a benchmark number in negotiations.
For the Vikings, they may not be willing to wait. Minnesota is currently pressed against the salary cap and even after releasing Xavier Rhodes and Linval Joseph on Friday, they have just over $20 million in cap room. It may not be enough to retain some of their key free agents, including Everson Griffen, Anthony Harris, and Trae Waynes.
Even a short-term extension featuring a restructured 2020 salary for Cousins would help gain some leverage to keep one the aforementioned players, or extend Dalvin Cook, but after a career year that saw Cousins throw 26 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, he is also likely looking for fair market value.
Another factor is the coronavirus pandemic, which as of this writing, the NFL reportedly has no plans to break away from business as usual.