We've focused mostly on the Vikings defense in terms of actual substance, with that side of the ball needing to undergo to biggest transformation from last year and that process beginning already with the firing of Ed Donatell plus hiring of Brian Flores as defensive coordinator.
But at some point in the next few weeks, the biggest question will be addressed. As our Ben Goessling framed it heading into the offseason, a decision on Cousins' long-term future in Minnesota "will shape the next several years of Kevin O'Connell's and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's tenures, and it will reveal plenty about the direction the Vikings plan to take."
On Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast, I framed it a little differently in a segment with columnist La Velle E. Neal III: If we think about Cousins' future with the Vikings and set an imaginary over-under line at 1.5 years, would you take the "over" or "under" when it comes to how many more years he will be the Vikings' starting quarterback.
Is this just another way of asking the same question about Cousins? Absolutely!
If you take the "under," it means you think the Vikings will either trade him this offseason (unlikely to me) or let him play out the final year of his contract before moving on in 2024 (a possibility). If you take the "over," you probably envision some sort of contract extension in the next few weeks that would keep him here at least through 2024.
The latter is the smarter bet, like it or not. The reality of the Vikings' situation seems to indicate an extension is likely: They just won 13 games, Cousins was clutch in several of those games, they need cap space if they want to improve their defense, they have many needs and very little draft capital to pick a QB this year and there exists no clear succession plan at the moment.
But they also face the prospect of a hefty Justin Jefferson extension soon, and continuing to pay Cousins elite money to be an above-average quarterback is not a Super Bowl formula.
Given that, an extension similar to the one Cousins agreed to last season — adding a year to his deal through 2024 while giving the Vikings some cap relief this season — seems reasonable.
But is Cousins — who will turn 35 before the 2023 season starts and is slated to be one of the oldest starting QBs in the league next season — more interested now in stability than betting on himself? Would he and his representatives seek a two- or three-year extension that guarantees Cousins more money into his late 30s?
Without knowing what each side is thinking, it's really hard to say. But the terms of any possible extension will be interesting and informative — perhaps telling us which side had more leverage in negotiations.
If they can't reach an agreement? It might be the details and not the overall sentiment between the sides that sinks things.