In the Disney classic Cinderella, the titular character calls upon her Fairy Godmother to turn her into a princess to attend the royal ball, where the prince plans to choose a wife. She turns mice into horses, a rat into a coachman, and lizards into footmen. A pumpkin is transformed into a golden carriage to take her to the ball.
Of course, this all comes with the caveat that once the clock strikes midnight, her ride will become a pumpkin once again and her dress, rags. We all know the story.
Unfortunately, this offseason Kirk Cousins has become our Cinderella.
Cousins is a lot of things to a lot of people. To some, he’s a Star Trek lovin’, dented-van drivin’, opposing lineman thankin’ goober. To others, he’s a weird meat grillin’, non-mask wearin’, immortal good ol’ boy. But to many, he’s an albatross. A large, majestic seabird weighed down from feeding on squid, krill, and cap space.
Well, my friends, our bloated bird is about to be grounded.
On Friday, he will turn into a pumpkin.
Per the terms of his $66 million extension, he had a $21 million cap hit last year and a $31 million hit this year. He’s due $35 million in base salary in 2022, plus a $10 million signing bonus, meaning he’ll count for $45 million against the cap in a year. And his base salary in 2022 is guaranteed Friday unless the Vikings do something about it.
NFL teams invest heavily in their quarterbacks. Everyone in Minnesota knows why — you need a good one to contend. Nobody is disputing that Patrick Mahomes is a $45 million player or that Deshaun Watson ($39 million), Russell Wilson ($35 million), or Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million) aren’t worth it for their teams. They’re elite.
Mahomes, Wilson, and Rodgers have won Super Bowls. Watson hasn’t because he plays for the Houston Texans. He’s trying to change that. His team, that is. Perhaps with some divine intervention, he will.
Cousins isn’t in their league. Yes, some quarterbacks make Wilson/Rodgers money who aren’t elite. Guys like Jared Goff, Matt Ryan, and Carson Wentz. However, Goff and Ryan have been to the Super Bowl. The grand ball, if you will. And Wentz was injured midway through the season the year the Philadelphia Eagles won it.
Each of them left a glass slipper. There’s evidence they’ve done it, even if we’re not sure we’ll ever find them there again.
Players like Goff, Ryan, and Wentz are albatrosses. Oversized seagulls, basically. Nobody wants them on their dock. They make annoying squawking noises and nip at you if you get too close. Front offices have tried to feed them AlkaSeltzer in the past, but now they’re punished with dead cap money. Nobody wants that. It’s a mess to clean up.
The Vikings front office presumably don’t want to pay Cousins Mahomes money. But if they don’t do something between now and when the clock strikes midnight on Friday, he’s going to get really expensive. Maybe they’ve considered dried rice, but he has a $41 million dead cap. It’s extend him, trade him, or pay him as much as the most talented quarterback in NFL history next year. Those are the three options.
They need to act fast. He’s starting to turn an orange hue, and who knows what will happen to his dented van.