Vikings QB Kirk Cousins: The 6th-highest earning player in NFL history

Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates after throwing for a touchdown during the first quarter in the game against the Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  ((Photo by David Berding/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Vikings entered the 2022 offseason with new leadership, and a big decision to make on the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins.

He was due to make $45 million against the team’s salary cap in his fifth season in Minnesota. That changed Sunday night, when Cousins and the Vikings agreed in principle to a contract extension that will keep him in Minnesota through at least the 2023 season. He’ll make $40 million guaranteed in 2022, $35 million in 2023, gets a no-trade clause and a $25 million signing bonus.

The move saves the Vikings nearly $14 million towards the 2022 salary cap. It gets interesting when you look at what he’s earned in salary compared to some of the top quarterbacks in the game.

If the contract stays intact through the 2023 season, Cousins will have about $231.6 million in career earnings. That’s sixth overall in NFL history among active players, at all positions.

The five that are all above him in earnings have all either won a Super Bowl, or played in one:

  • Matt Ryan ($318.7 million in 16 seasons)
  • Tom Brady ($318.3 million in 23 seasons)
  • Aaron Rodgers ($316.5 million in 19 seasons)
  • Matthew Stafford ($262.3 million in 14 seasons)
  • Russell Wilson ($232.3 million in 12 seasons)

The message is clear from the Vikings’ ownership group and front office: The 2022 season isn’t a rebuild. They feel they have the talent to make a Super Bowl run, and they feel Cousins is the quarterback to get them there.

Cousins is 59-59-2 for his career as a starting quarterback. In four seasons with the Vikings, he’s 33-29-1. The problem? The Vikings have just one playoff win with Cousins as the starting quarterback, and they’ve missed the NFC Playoffs altogether in three out of his four seasons.

It’s not all on Cousins. The offensive line has been inconsistent and the defense has been in the bottom half of the NFL the last two seasons. Cousins threw for more than 4,200 yards, 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions last season.

The roster moves Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell start making this week will tell a lot about where the organization can go while Cousins remains in charge of the offense.