QB Kirk Cousins, Vikings agree on 2-year extension

Why Stephen A. is giving props to Cousins for new contract (0:58)

Stephen A. Smith remarks on Kirk Cousins' continued ability to secure big paydays despite limited playoff success. (0:58)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Two days prior to the start of free agency, quarterback Kirk Cousins agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings.

Cousins had one year left on his current deal -- a historic three-year, fully-guaranteed contract signed in March 2018 -- and was due a $29.5 million base salary for 2020, which becomes $10 million on his new deal. His new deal is worth $66 million over two years, including $61 million guaranteed at signing, a source told ESPN.

"Julie and I are thrilled to be staying in Minnesota for the next several years," Cousins said in a statement. "People have embraced us and treated our family incredibly well. We also believe we are building something special at the Vikings. We know how much this team means to the fans and the state, and we want to do everything we can to help this team bring a championship home."

The move Monday morning cleared $10 million in cap space for the Vikings, who were then able to pull off a surprise move of placing the franchise tag on safety Anthony Harris just minutes before the 10:59 a.m. CT deadline.

Cousins' extension comes with a $30 million signing bonus and $10 million in new cash for 2020, which raises his total guarantees to $40 million this year (he was already guaranteed $30 million in 2020 on his previous deal). The quarterback's cap number is expected to drop from $31 million to $21 million for 2020, which created substantial savings for Minnesota. The Vikings entered Monday $20 million under the cap after releasing veterans Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph and David Morgan late last week.

The quarterback will be fully guaranteed a $21 million base salary in 2021 and his base salary for 2022 -- $35 million - is guaranteed for injury upon signing but converts to a full guarantee on the third day of the 2021 league year.

Counting next year's salary from the old deal, Cousins has a $96 million deal in total. Since it's unlikely that the team would cut Cousins after one season and still owe him $61 million, the deal is effectively fully guaranteed.

Since 2016 when he received his first of back-to-back franchise tags, Cousins has only played on fully guaranteed deals.

Among the Vikings' top priorities this offseason was extending Cousins to provide further stability at quarterback and create space on the salary cap so the team could be active in free agency. The two sides had been working through figures brought to the table by the Vikings in recent weeks, sources told ESPN, and finally agreed to a new deal on Monday morning.

"Kirk loves being a Minnesota Viking," McCartney told ESPN. "We wanted to work with the Vikings and make sure both sides felt good about this deal and allow the Vikings to move forward with more cap space for the 2020 season."

Cousins carries cap hits of $31 million in 2021 and $45 million in 2022. Though those numbers are high, if the quarterback turns in another season similar to the one he had in 2019, it's possible the Vikings look to extend him after next season.

Unlike the first deal Cousins signed in Minnesota, his extension does not carry the same no-trade clause provision.

Cousins turned in a career year last season and helped lead the Vikings to the divisional playoffs. The quarterback finished top-5 in completion percentage (69.1) and passer rating (107.4) while throwing for 3,603 yards, 26 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Vikings fullback C.J. Ham also agreed to a three-year contract extension with the team on Monday. Ham, who was set to be a restricted free agent, will make $12.25 million over the next four years and is slated to make $4 million this season ($3 million signing bonus, $900K base salary, $100K workout).