- ESPN.com national NFL writer
- ESPN.com NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
- Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008
EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has no doubt about where he wants to spend the rest of his career, even after negotiations for a contract extension broke down this winter.
“I want to be in Minnesota,” Cousins said Wednesday in his first comments since it became clear that he would be eligible for free agency after this season. “That’s kind of a no-brainer. Hopefully, we can earn the right to do that.”
Cousins, who will turn 35 in August, is in the final year of a series of contracts that have paid him $155 million since the Vikings signed him in 2018. He produced a career-low 49.9 Total Quarterback Rating in 2022 but led eight fourth-quarter comebacks to help the Vikings to a 13-4 record in their first season with coach Kevin O’Connell.
The Vikings did extensive work on the quarterback class in the 2023 draft, but their spot at No. 23 made it difficult to maneuver for any of the top three passers. They selected BYU’s Jaren Hall in the fifth round as a developmental prospect, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said afterward that “every option is open to us going forward” at the position, including signing Cousins to a new deal.
“In this league, there should never be entitlement,” Cousins said. “You’ve always got to go play, and teams can do whatever they want to do. That’s their prerogative. You just go to work. You do the best you can. I’m encouraged and excited because I do feel like I’ve got a lot of good football ahead of me.”
Indeed, the uncertainty does not appear to bother Cousins, who noted he has played three other seasons of his NFL career in the final year of a contract. Going back further, Cousins recalled his senior season at Holland (Michigan) Christian High School, when a reporter at his hometown newspaper would frequently ask him for comment about not having any scholarship offers.
“This is more the norm than the exception,” he said. “The exception is that you have something penciled in for future years. Most of our locker room has no idea what is coming in three or four months, let alone three or four years or next year. I feel like I’m one of the guys, if you will. We’re all in this together. That’s the way this league works. I think it’s part of what makes this league great. Everybody has an edge. Everybody’s working. Everybody has something to prove. Nobody can operate with entitlement and comfort and put in less than their best.”
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