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2018 Free Agency: Vikings expected to sign Kirk Cousins to fully guaranteed deal

Minnesota beat out a host of teams for the biggest fish on the free agent market, and they’ll pay up every penny on the proposed contract.

Washington Redskins v New York Giants
Kirk Cousins comes to Minnesota after having last faced the Packers in 2016 in the game that created “Run the table.”
Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

The 13-3 defending NFC North champions will get even better in 2018. According to reports Tuesday from NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport, the Minnesota Vikings initially offered Kirk Cousins a three-year deal at $28 million annually. ESPN’s Adam Schefter later reported the deal is in place between the two teams, and that it will be fully guaranteed.

After Washington traded for Alex Smith, Cousins’ exit became inevitable. A bidding war emerged in the league’s legal and not-legal-but-we-accept-it-happens portion of the offseason.

The Vikings clearly offered the best chance to win over teams like the Browns and Jets. Those franchises were reportedly willing to offer a non-traditional deal with more then $40 million in Year 1 of a potential contract to entice Cousins. Ultimately, Rick Spielman had the luxury of offering a Super Bowl contending roster along with an enormous contract.

How that affects the team’s flexibility moving forward could ultimately decide how smart it was to invest so heavily in Cousins. The Vikings have contracts coming up in 2019 for Stefon Diggs, Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks, and a team option for Trae Waynes. They could face the prospect of having to let go critical talent in order to make this contract work.

That said, the rising cap could make it easier to manage that blow and Minnesota will still have money this offseason to spend on roster improvements.

Last year’s starter for most of the year Case Keenum will reportedly sign with the Broncos, while Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford are free agents, leaving the Vikings with just Cousins under contract for next year.

One other important factor for Green Bay is that Cousins getting a fully guaranteed deal could affect the way Aaron Rodgers wants his extension structured. The Packers’ biggest division rival and a team many consider to already have a superior roster just got better. Likewise, the pressure for Brian Gutekunst to aggressively improve Green Bay’s roster just got more intense.