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NFL Expert Predicts Big Pay for Cousins

 

A former NFL executive told Sports Headliners the Vikings are certain to pay quarterback Kirk Cousins $35 million in guaranteed money for the 2022 season.

The organization and Cousins have until late March of this year to make that decision but the source is sure the veteran quarterback will be rewarded with a big pay day even though the club will have to make salary cap adjustments to accommodate the $35 million. “He will be here,” the source said about 2022. “He’s still a top 10 or 12 quarterback in the league.”

The NFL salary cap (nearly $200 million per team in 2020) will decline this year after league teams saw revenues take a hard hit because of the pandemic. That will only add to the Vikings’ need for belt tightening because of the $21 million due Cousins in 2021 and the $35 million next year.

The former front office executive, who asked to speak anonymously, predicted several Vikings are likely not to return for 2021 including 31-year-old tight end Kyle Rudolph. He said Rudolph will be gone for sure, with the Vikings dumping his estimated $7.6 million salary and replacing him with a younger and less expensive combo of talents in Irv Smith Jr. and Tyler Conklin.

Veteran offensive tackle Riley Reiff has a base salary for 2021 of $11.6 million, per Spotrac.com. At 32, Reiff doesn’t play at a high enough level to justify that kind of money, the ex-NFL decision maker said. Reiff’s compensation is among the highest on the team.

Others turning in their Vikings uniforms could include safety Anthony Harris, a good player but not at more than $11 million. Perhaps management and Harris can restructure his contract. Corner Mike Hughes isn’t making big money “but has missed a ton of time” with injuries and the Vikings could make a decision to part ways, the source said.

Linebacker Anthony Barr is one of the top paid Vikings and will likely draw offseason salary cap scrutiny, although he is a coach Mike Zimmer favorite, according to the authority. Savings from not having Barr on the payroll could be used for a new deal with emerging linebacker Eric Wilson.

Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen has a salary approaching $4 million, didn’t have an impressive 2020 season and could be expendable. The Vikings are expecting defensive tackle Michael Pierce to return after opting out because of the pandemic, and he plays for similar money.

The source quoted here had front office leadership experiences with a couple of league teams, and said he would want to know which Dan Bailey is returning to the Vikings in 2021. The kicker will make over $2.5 million next season, but he had a back injury and performance problems last year after being impressive in 2019.

The source said if he were making decisions for the Vikings and the 2021 NFL Draft he wouldn’t prioritize finding a quarterback with the club’s No. 14 pick in the first round. He would be looking for a guard to replace Dakota Dozier, or defensive tackle to rush the passer and “stop the run.”

He said exceptional quarterbacks have sometimes been found in the later draft rounds including Russell Wilson who the Seahawks selected in the third round. “With 11 picks (in 2021), the Vikings have the luxury of looking for a quarterback,” he added.

Worth Noting

The Wild announced this morning the training camp roster has been reduced to 22 players, with the placement of forwards Luke Johnson and Kyle Rau, defensemen Matt Bartkowski, Louie Belpedio and Dakota Mermis, and goaltender Andrew Hammond on its taxi squad. The Wild designated forwards Marco Rossi and Mats Zuccarello and goaltender Alex Stalock as injured non-roster players.

Coach Juwan Howard and his undefeated Michigan basketball team, ranked No. 7 in the AP top 25, plays the Gophers Saturday in Minneapolis. As a coveted high school player Howard was recruited hard by Bloomington, Minnesota native Brian Dutcher, then an assistant coach at Michigan who helped put together the famous “Fab Five” of which Howard was a key player. The two have remained friends with Dutcher part of Howard’s wedding party in Turks and Caicos years ago.

John Anderson

U.S. Bank Stadium will be converted to a baseball setup February 1, with coach John Anderson’s Gophers expected to have the most playing dates. With “bubbles” being in vogue during the pandemic, you wonder if the Big Ten would move the baseball schedules of many league teams to the centralized site of U.S. Bank Stadium.

With a list of events cancelled or rescheduled, the stadium is in cost containment mode and has reduced staffing.

A local radio source said a start-up of WCCO Radio’s long airing and popular “Sports Huddle” show remains indefinite. The Sunday morning program stopped airing last year because of the pandemic and program originator Sid Hartman has since passed away.

With the Timberwolves off to one of the worst starts among NBA teams, have to believe Gersson Rosas, president of basketball operations, is on the phone regarding trades including with former boss Daryl Morey of the Sixers. The two worked extensively together in Houston with the Rockets.

Among the issues for the 3-7 Wolves is guard D’Angelo Russell’s domination of the ball late in games. Instead of involving others, he too often tries to be scoring champion James Harden when results more resemble Isaiah Rider.

Former Twins Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat frequently receive first mention as potential Hall of Famers but Johan Santana and manager Tom Kelly deserve consideration for Cooperstown, too.

The list goes all the way back to a showdown with Texas in 1936, but in the most recent games against the following nonconference opponents the Gophers have emerged the winner: Alabama, Oregon, Auburn, Arkansas, Clemson, Texas, Army, Navy, Air Force, Stanford, Arizona, SMU, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Oregon State, Vanderbilt, Washington State, Oklahoma State, Wake Forest, Baylor, Houston, Tulane and Colorado State. Credit sports trivia authority Dave Mona with the research.

For the first time ever the Big Ten has 12 of its 14 wrestling teams ranked in the top 25 of the NWCA coaches poll—led by No. 1 Iowa, followed by No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Penn State, No. 6 Nebraska, No. 7 Ohio State, No. 14 Minnesota, No. 15 Rutgers, No. 16 Purdue, No. 21 Wisconsin, No. 22 Northwestern, No. 24 Illinois, No. 25 Michigan State.

John Schneider, the University of St. Thomas alum and Seahawks GM, has a new five-year contract extension, according to a report yesterday from the Seattle Times Sports Alert. His name had been rumored with the Lions opening.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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