Vikings keep Garrett Bradbury as Kirk Cousins ​​reworks deal

Kevin SeifertESPN staff writer2 minute reading

The Minnesota Vikings have restructured the contract of quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​to provide $16 million in salary cap space in 2023, sources said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Vikings agreed to terms with incumbent center Garrett Bradbury on a three-year contract, a source told ESPN, confirming a report from NFL Network.

The move made the Vikings tight end compliant ahead of Wednesday’s deadline for all NFL teams to come under the $224.8 million threshold. However, it did not extend the functional duration of Cousins’ deal. Unless further changes are made at a later date, the final years of the contract will be voided and Cousins ​​will be eligible for free agency after the 2023 season.

The Vikings have twice extended the original three-year, $84 million contract they signed Cousins ​​to in March 2018. One came in 2020 and the other in 2022. In both cases, the Vikings felt compelled to trade future guarantees with short-term salary cap relief. As a result, in his six seasons with the team, Cousins ​​has earned the NFL’s third-highest total in cash ($155 million) while consuming the league’s highest total salary cap ($136.4 million) during that span.

But with Cousins ​​approaching his 35th birthday this summer, the Vikings weren’t inclined to push his time horizon any further with the team. There would be nothing stopping them from extending his contract at some point before the 2024 free agent market, but the more likely scenario is that they will now begin the process of finding Cousins’ future replacement.

After the Vikings declined his fifth-year option, Bradbury had mixed results in a proof-of-concept 2022 season in new coach Kevin O’Connell’s scheme. His pass block win rate rose to 93.9%, which ranked him 19th in the NFL among centers, but he missed the final five games of the regular season due to a back injury and subsequent car accident that extended his stay on the sidelines .

Bradbury, who turns 28 in June, returned in time for the Vikings’ wild-card playoff game, but he and the rest of the interior couldn’t contain New York Giants star Dexter Lawrence in a 31-24 loss.

The Vikings, under former coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman, made Bradbury the 18th overall pick in the 2019 draft — the team’s highest pick for an interior lineman in 30 years.

However, the selection was as much based on need as it was staff planning. Bradbury had won the 2018 Rimington Trophy at NC State as college football’s top center, but the Vikings had spent the previous four seasons trying to patch up the position following the free-agent departure of John Sullivan.

Bradbury was almost immediately elevated to the Vikings’ first team, starting all of their games in his first two seasons. But he struggled against interior pass rushers, and the Vikings benched him briefly toward the end of the 2021 season. From 2019 through 2021, Bradbury ranked No. 31 out of 32 qualified centers in ESPN’s pass block win rate metric (90.5%).

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