Photo: Kareem Elgazzar – USA TODAY Sports
On Monday, life at the TCO Performance Center will start moving much faster. It’s the day the Minnesota Vikings are expected to officially hire Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell as their new head coach. They will also start filling O’Connell staff vacancies quickly, while simultaneously preparing for huge decisions on the 2022 roster that will need to be dealt with quickly.
And that’s when they come face to face with the biggest and most important elephant in the room. While other contracts technically need to be dealt with sooner, the Vikings need to decide early (if they haven’t already) what to do with their Cap of 45 million dollars reached quarterback, Kirk Cousins.
There are two realistic options. Kwesi & Co. can (a) trade it and save $35 million off their salary cap or they can (b) extend it, pushing some of that $45 million into the future.
What does Justin Jefferson want?
And if you ask Vikings superstar receiver Justin Jefferson what he wants them to do – that’s exactly what Zach Gelb (CBS Sports) did on his radio show on Tuesday – he would like Kirk to stay. But JJ seems happy with the decision made on who will throw the ball to him next season or in the future. In fact, it straddles the personal/professional fence in an impressive way.
“With the new head coach and the new general manager, nobody is expecting anything at the moment. If he’s there, great. I love Kirk,” Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson Recount The Zach Gelb Show Tuesday. “I like Kirk as a person, I like Kirk as a quarterback. He’s done an amazing job with me, ever since I came into the league. So I definitely wouldn’t mind if he stay. I like Kirk. But if the general manager and the head coach want to go a different route, that’s up to them.”
“At the end of the day, it’s not me who makes the decision. I’m just here to play football and I’m going to give it my all no matter who the quarterback is. i honestly do [think we can win a Super Bowl with him]. Kirk is an exceptional quarterback… I feel like Kirk just needs to go out there and have fun with it – just have that confidence, have that swagger. Trust his playmakers to win the ball and do what they have to do. So, I’m happy for this coming year.
JJ’s opinion matters
One of the biggest arguments for a Kirk Cousins expansion is the development of Justin Jefferson. The Minnesota Vikings are unlikely to find a quarterback through trade, free agency or the draft who can nurture JJ as Cousins has already proven.
Pushing Jefferson’s development and maintaining his purple happiness should be one of the new regime’s highest priorities. If he likes Kirk throwing the ball to him, they have to keep his thoughts in mind when making their decision. Remember, a Kirk Cousins extension doesn’t necessarily mean we’re married to him for the next three years.
It might be easy for Justin Jefferson to welcome the decision the new regime is now taking on Kirk Cousins. But that won’t be the case midway through next season, if his new QB can’t get him the ball or make the Minnesota Vikings’ NFL-level offense work.
Eric Strack | Minnesota sports fan