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Bleacher Report – Vikings

The Vikings can afford Kirk Cousins

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings should be at the very top of Kirk Cousins’ list of landing spots.

Following a trade to acquire Kansas City’s Alex Smith, it Cousins will hit the free agent market in march. Whether you believe Washington’s starter over the last three years has done enough to earn a mega contract or not, he’s certain to land somewhere in the range of $27-$30 million per season.

The decision for the Vikings on pursuing Cousins should be based on his talent not the price tag. While pouring $30 million into a QB certainly doesn’t make it easier to sign free agents, it also won’t hinder the Vikings’ ability to keep star players.

In the first year of a potential deal, the Vikings wouldn’t have any challenge fitting $30 million under the salary cap. They have $50 million in free space and another $6.7 million coming off the books with injured defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.

Concerns over cap issues would begin in 2019. Five key players are in line for contract extensions. Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Stefon Diggs, Trae Waynes and Danielle Hunter.

If each of the five players scored a deal within the upper range of NFL contracts at their position, it could cost the Vikings around $60 million per year.

Last week, the Twin Cities met with general manager Rick Spielman. He was asked about handling a huge contract for a QB.

“Regardless of who the quarterback is, we have planned for this two years back,” Spielman said. “We don’t just start planning for this year on our cap. There is a process in place, like everything we do, that’s done very thoroughly and it is also looking out into the future. Knowing, as these players develop and knowing as those players become good players that you don’t want to lose, we’re targeting guys – OK, two years from now we’re probably going to have to pay this guy. So as we cap plan, I never want to get into the mode of all in this year because I don’t want to start back over again. It’s always looking, not only to put the best team on the field this year, but also can we keep these players for year after year after year.”

So it would seem that two years ago the Vikings were looking at 2018 as the year they would have Teddy Bridgewater playing on his (very expensive) fifth-year option, then a lucrative extension.

Even with $60-plus million added in contract extensions, the Vikings will have enough flexibility with their current set of contracts to manage a $30 million QB deal in 2019.

According to OverTheCap.com, the Vikings have around $78 million in space for 2019 and they are in a position with big-money players to either re-work deals or move on for little-to-no penalty. Kyle Rudolph has a $7.6 million cap hit in 2019. He can be released with no punishment. Andrew Sendejo is set to hit for $5.5 million with zero penalty. Latavius Murray ($5.6 million) can be released with only a $600,000 hit, Mike Remmers ($6.3 million) can be let go for $1.8 million and Everson Griffen ($10.2 million) can bet released for $1.2 million in dead cap money.

All of those players are part of a team that just went 13-3, so it’s unlikely the Vikings would want to move on from all of them in two years, but the front office has an opportunity to restructure deals or replace players through the draft.

Minnesota will also have key players still on their rookie contracts like Dalvin Cook and Pat Elflein, who won’t be free agents until 2021. And it’s unlikely the Vikings will need to pick up Laquon Treadwell’s fifth-year option, which would have run them in the range of $10 million in 2020.

With most of the roster returning, the Vikings shouldn’t have to spend much in free agency. They will need to decide on bringing back Tom Johnson or signing an offensive guard, but most of the other spots are already set.

So the question isn’t whether the Vikings could sign Cousins and still have a good supporting cast and defense – they can. The question is whether Cousins wants to come to Minnesota and whether he’s actually worth signing onto for a five-year deal for $30 million per season.

The post The Vikings can afford Kirk Cousins appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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